TACOMA — The pregame message hasn’t been delivered just yet, because the Class 4A girls basketball state championship is still hours away Saturday night. But Camas girls basketball coach Scott Thompson knows a similar message all year long will echo when tip-off happens at the Tacoma Dome.
“Ultimately,” he said, “when push comes to shove, we’ll be at our best because that’s just what they do.”
And to get there, the Papermakers defeated a Tahoma squad it beat twice this season. This time, it was a 57-47 hard-nose state semifinal win Friday night.
By already playing in the state semifinals, Camas (24-3) reached a place no girls basketball team in program history had reached before. And this year’s Papermakers took another step further by reaching its first state title game. They’ll face Eastlake, a 64-53 winner over Kamiakin in its Friday semifinal, at 7 p.m. Saturday.
In fact, Camas was Eastlake’s first opponent of the 2022-23 season. Camas won on the road, 64-52.
“Defense wins championships,” junior Parker Mairs said. “That’s what it all about (Saturday), so we have to step it up.”
In order to reach the state championship game , Camas topped the tournament’s top seed and defending champion, Woodinville, on Thursday, before topping the Bears for a third time. Both games this week, Thompson praised his team’s grit and determination.
In Camas and Tahoma’s prior meetings, Camas won convincingly. First, a 73-53 victory on Jan. 16, and more recently, a 60-31 win in their bi-district title game nearly two weeks ago.
Perhaps it’s no surprise at this stretch, both teams knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses entering Friday. Camas players said they felt their prior two meetings against Tahoma gave them an edge.
“We know each other so much,” said sophomore Sophie Buzzard. “We know who’s good for guarding each person. We know their strengths. We know who to shut down and it benefits us.”
On Friday, Round 3 was anything but easy. Camas held a 23-13 halftime lead that seemed greater given their hot outside shooting in the first half (7 of 11) while holding Tahoma to 13.6 percent shooting (3 of 22).
But behind Hope Hassmann (15 points) and Lauryn Frederickson (13), Tahoma quadrupled their number of first-half field goals and cut the Camas lead down to six twice. At one point, the Papermakers’ lead was just 47-41 with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter.
Free throws steals it. Camas went 15 of 21, including hitting all but two free throws down the stretch. For consecutive games, a balance attack paced the Papermakers. Four players reached double figures in scoring: Riley Sanz’s 13 points, followed by 12 apiece by Buzzard, Addison Harris and Keirra Thompson. Kendall Mairs and Reagan Jamison also reached double figures in rebounding as Camas outrebounded Tahoma, 48-29.
What has them believing in what they can accomplish Saturday starts by one of the strengths that’s led them to this point.
“We’re all so supportive of each other,” Mairs said. “There’s so much joy and happiness … that’s where our heads are at.”
CAMAS 57, TAHOMA 47
TAHOMA — Brooke Deyak 2, Hope Hassmann 15, Bailey Nettleton 0, Gracyn Meyer 0, Lauryn Frederickson 13, Kate Wooten 0, Lily Cavanaugh 7, Angelina Cavanguh 3, Addy Hansen 0, Amilie Sitterud 7. Totals 15 (2) 1-2 47.
CAMAS — Reagan Jamison 1, Kendall Mairs 4, Riley Sanz 13, Sophie BUzzard 13, Parker Mairs 3, Kendall Bachelder 0, Marta Biasolo 0, Addison Harris 12, Keirra Thpmoson 12. Totals 17 (8) 15-21 57.
Tahoma 8 5 16 18 – 47
Camas 13 10 19 15 – 57