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Saturday, June 3, 2023
June 3, 2023

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Defense, clutch late 3-pointer leads Camas girls to gritty 43-39 win over Bellarmine Prep

Papermakers advance to bi-district semifinals and secure berth to regional round of state

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

The final minute of the Camas girls basketball team’s bi-district playoff game against Bellarmine Prep perfectly encapsulated the Papermakers’ night.

There was a foul drawn by a player without the ball, a player running head-first into a wall to keep a ball in play, and a big steal by that same player who didn’t score a point all night.

That all set up Riley Sanz’s shot-clock-beating 3-pointer with 22 seconds left, helping seal a 43-39 win for the Papermakers on Friday night and securing a berth in the regional round of the 4A state playoffs.

“This was our fifth time playing (Bellarmine) in the last two years,” Sanz said. “So we always have a good rivalry with them. It’s always a really tough, hard game. But it was fun that we came out with the win.”

Keiara Curtis’ 3-pointer tied the game for Bellarmine at 39-39 with 1:10 to play.

On Camas’ next possession, Sophie Buzzard stepped out to set a screen for Keirra Thompson and drew a foul when Curtis ran through that screen.

Buzzard would hit the first free throw to give Camas the lead. The second shot missed, leading to a scramble for the ball. Kendall Mairs dove to save the ball from going out of bounds and her head on the back wall of the gymnasium.

Mairs would leave the game briefly, but re-entered in time to get a steal on Bellarmine’s next possession.

Camas tried to work time off the clock, but a jumpball call left the Papermakers with the ball out of bounds and just three seconds on the shot clock.

“Our beginning play didn’t open up that much,” said Thompson, who was inbounding the ball. “Riley looked open deep, so I chucked it that way.”

Sanz grabbed the pass near midcourt with a defender right on her. She turned back toward the basket and launched a shot as the shot-clock expired. It went in for a 43-39 lead.

“I did see the girl coming out to defend me,” Sanz said. “And I was like ‘Well, I don’t know if this will be open.’ But there was only three seconds left on the clock, so you gotta do what you gotta do.”

While it was not pretty at times on defense, the Papermakers did what they had to do, especially on defense.

“Offensively, it feels like we have a lot of work to do,” Camas coach Scott Thompson said. “But defensively, that’s as good as we’ve played all year.

“That second half, there was just — on both ends — so much effort and so much energy. And I felt like our team was so connected defensively. … It was really, really fun to watch because it felt like we really, really wanted to win that game.”

Mairs made other key contributions on defense, despite not scoring on offense. In addition to her key late steal, she also had several big blocks.

“We put a lot effort into our defense, especially in the second half,” Thompson said. “With some of Kendall’s blocks and then Riley’s charge, we were just coming together.”

Camas will play Sumner next in the bi-district semifinal on Wednesday at Curtis High School in University Place. However, all four semifinalists are assured of advancing onto the regional round of the state tournament.


BELLARMINE PREP (18-7) — Kiara Stone 7, Keiara Curtis 15, Stella Wiggins 2, Jada Travis 11, Taylor Teeple 2, Kiera Leingang 2. Totals 17 (3) 2-4 39.

CAMAS (19-3) —  Kendall Mairs 0, Riley Sanz 11, Sophie Buzzard 10, Parker Mairs 0, Baylie Farra 0, Brianna Forbess 0, Addison Harris 8, Keirra Thompson 14. Totals 14 (4) 11-17 43.

B. Prep 10 17 6 6—39

Camas 14 10 9 10—43