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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Sept. 28, 2023

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Camas boys get past Bellarmine Prep to clinch 4A state regionals berth

Papermakers win bi-district playoff game 75-57 as all five starters reach double figures in scoring

By , Columbian staff writer

Whenever the Camas boys basketball team takes a road trip up north that passes by the Tacoma Dome, the site of the Class 4A state tournament, the Papermakers are reminded of what they’re working toward.

They’re now one step closer — the closest they’ve been in eight years — to reaching their ultimate goal.

Camas earned a 75-57 win over Bellarmine Prep in a winner-to-state 4A bi-district playoff game on Saturday at home. The Papermakers advanced to the bi-district semifinals, where all four teams earn an automatic bid to the state regional round on Feb. 24-25. Get through that, and a trip to “The Dome” comes next.

“That’s where we want to go,” senior Theo McMillan said. “This win means the world, and we’re gonna keep going.”

What made Saturday’s win extra special for Camas, which advanced to the state regional round for the first time since 2015, was how last year ended, coming up one win short of reaching the state regional round in an overtime loss to Graham-Kapowsin.

“There (were) many times that we were talking about how far we got last season … and it just made us really want to win,” senior Jamison Carlisle said.

This season, Camas won its first outright league title since 2011. That meant, as the top seed out of the 4A Greater St. Helens League, the Papermakers needed one bi-district win to advance to regionals, compared to the three-game gauntlet they went through last season.

Another difference in Saturday’s game? The Papermakers’ added postseason experience with many of the same players who were with the program during last year’s run.

It served them well against a tough Lions team that led 19-16 after a first quarter that included six lead changes.

Camas took a five-point lead into halftime by outscoring Bellarmine 21-13 in the second, then extended the advantage to double-digits less than three minutes the third quarter.

Baskets from Jace VanVoorhis, McMillan, Beckett Currie and Carlisle gave Camas a 45-34 lead.

Then after Josh Dabasinskas took a charge against Bellarmine, Currie drained a 3-pointer to give the Papermakers a 48-36 lead and Bellarmine called timeout.

“Very grateful that the boys were able to come out so confidently and really were able to play their style,” Camas head coach Ryan Josephson said. “There’s no avoiding pressure, but they handled the pressure extremely well. I think that speaks to so many of them being experienced from the run we had last year and being major contributors through the playoffs. Those nerves did not show up the way they do for first-timers.”

The Papermakers’ starting five all reached double figures in scoring and combined for all 75 of the teams points: Currie (23), Carlisle (17), VanVoorhis (14), McMillan (11) and Dabasinskas (10).

Remarkably, right now is the healthiest the team has been, top to bottom, since early December. VanVoorhis returned to the lineup on the final night of the regular season after suffering a broken wrist while Camas was playing at The Hardwood Invite in December.

“Jace is huge,” McMillan said. “He brings so much to the table. Not just offensively, what everybody sees, but defensively, the ball pressure. It’s such a big help to have him back on the court.”

Dabasinskas and Carlisle were also sidelined at various times due to injuries, which forced a number of bench players to play more minutes.

“I don’t think we had a single game that we had every single player on the floor,” Carlisle said.

Camas also had a brief scare Saturday in the first two minutes when McMillan tweaked his ankle on a drive and came up limping to the free-throw line. He signaled to the Camas bench he was fine, but Josephson subbed him out briefly to make sure. Less than a minute later, McMillan returned to the game and promptly scored on a layup.

“I don’t like coming out for little stuff like that, so I just wanted to push through,” McMillan said.

With their full lineup finally intact, the Papermakers showed numerous signs of a team working unselfishly, particularly during stretches of the second half when they began to increase the lead.

One of the themes Camas has stressed all season, Josephson said, is “good to great.”

“While they can always go and create a good shot, there’s always a great shot available if they just expand their vision,” he said. “It hasn’t been an issue with selfishness, it’s just been about training that recognition of the opportunity. That’s really something they’re starting to show more and more every game. The selflessness is a big theme in our group, and it’s not just on the offensive end, it’s on the defensive end too. … This team excels at playing for each other.”

In the bi-district semifinals, Camas will play No. 1 seed Curtis, the defending 4A state champion, on the Vikings’ home court Feb. 16.

“This is what happens when we play like that,” Carlisle said. “When we play team basketball and we make those extra passes, we can go very far and we can win.”


BELLARMINE (13-12) — Tony Scarola 11, Matteo Smith 5, Lucas Kokich 2, Josh Albers 0, Dylan Wiggins 20, Gabe Gomez 0, Sam Inderbitzin 11, Malik Momoh 6, Sam Nam 2, Peter Matthew 0. Totals 22 (6) 7-10 57.

CAMAS (17-5) — Beckett Currie 23, Konnor Limnell 0, Matthew Chillian 0, Jace VanVoorhis 14, Theo McMillan 11, Josh Dabasinskas 10, Cade Washington 0, Jamison Carlisle 17, Nyima Namru 0, Ethan Harris 0. Totals 32 (4) 7-11 75.

Bellarmine 19 13 15 10—57

Camas 16 21 19 19—75