TACOMA — “The team who comes out on top is the team who wakes up better.”
Camas senior Jamison Carlisle recited the message he and his Papermakers teammates heard from their coaches one day earlier after suffering a 27-point loss to Curtis in the Class 4A state boys basketball quarterfinals.
With a return to the Tacoma Dome less than 24 hours later and a win-or-go-home matchup against Skyline at 9 a.m., no less, the Papermakers needed to manufacture their own energy from the time their alarm clocks went off.
In the mostly muted surroundings of the Tacoma Dome for Friday morning’s consolation games, the loudest voices came from the Camas sideline. The Papermakers’ energy was evident as they went through pre-game warmups on the court, and it translated immediately when the game tipped off.
“We decided to wake up better and get that energy going,” Carlisle said. “I mean, you heard it in the warmups — we were really loud and it was kind of quiet on the other side. It showed in the game.”
Camas jumped out to an 8-0 run in the first two-and-a-half minutes, led 22-9 after the first quarter and never looked back in a 77-57 win over Skyline, which extended the Papermakers’ season for one more day.
“Going into this game, that’s what were harping on at the beginning,” senior Josh Dabasinskas said of the team’s energy. “Even last night we were like, OK, get a good night’s sleep, wake up early, we’re going to win this game through energy and who comes out on top first. And that’s exactly what we did.”
The win advanced Camas to Saturday’s placing round, where it will face Gonzaga Prep in the fourth-sixth place game at 8 a.m. Regardless of the outcome Saturday, Camas will take home a boys basketball state trophy for the first time since 1962, when the Papermakers took eighth place at the 1A state tournament.
To get to Saturday, the Papermakers’ starting five put together the latest in a string of balanced attacks this season. Sophomore Beckett Currie led with 21 points, which put him over the top to break the program’s single-season scoring record of 550 points set by Tom Wallenborn in the 1955-56 season.
Senior Theo McMillan had a double-double of 12 points and a single-game program record 19 rebounds.
Carlisle scored 14 points, while Dabasinskas and sophomore Jace VanVoorhis each chipped in 10 points.
The Papermakers’ starting five stands between 6-foot and 6-foot-2, with Carlisle and Dabasinskas occupying their four and five spots. They’ve been outmatched in size and athleticism on several occasions this season, but a game like Friday illustrated many of the ways they’ve offset those factors.
Camas out-rebounded Skyline 45-27, had 15 second-chance points to the Spartans’ six and even drew four charges.
“We’re a smaller team,” Dabasinskas said. “I’m our center, I’m 6-2. We definitely don’t have any size, so it’s all about grit and who wants it more. We came out and we wanted it more.”
“When I think back on them,” Camas head coach Ryan Josephson added, “I already know that I’m going to call them average joes with the biggest hearts, because how they play is, we’re not going to go out there and athletically dominate anyone. But when they win games it’s because they fight. So, for us to go and get rebounds, we got to work harder. To stay in front of guys, they got to put a little bit more into every push.
“But they’re willing to do that, and that’s why they’ve been able to get this far.”
Josephson wasn’t quite ready to consider what Friday’s win means in the big picture of the program, instead preferring to stay in the present at this point in the season and enjoy another day with this year’s group, including the senior class of McMillan, Carlisle, Dabasinskas, Matthew Chilian and Konnor Limnell.
“They’re very inspirational to me, just knowing how hard they’ve worked, and not just in the offseason, but when they get out there on the court,” Josephson said. “They play with a lot of confidence. But I think they know it’s because they’re willing to go out there and fight a little bit harder than other guys.”
And for those seniors, they know Saturday’s game will be the swan song of their high school careers, regardless of the result. They intend to enjoy final moments of an already memorable week.
“We earned the last game being the last game no matter what, instead of an elimination game,” Carlisle said. “There’s nothing to be worried about; just go out and have fun.”
CAMAS 77, SKYLINE 57
SKYLINE (20-8) — Nahmeir Robinson 6, Dylan Reilly 0, Nyale Robinson 0, Kyler Przybylski 10, Trey Crandall 22, Bryton Bunch 2, Caden Culver 3, Marcus Angiuli 2, Atticus Boba 0, Ryan Shields 4, Willy Heise 8. Totals 21 (2) 14-16 57.
CAMAS (20-8) — Beckett Currie 21, Konnor Limnell 2, Matthew Sitler 4, Matthew Chilian 0, Jace VanVoorhis 10, Theo McMillan 12, Josh Dabasinskas 10, Cade Washington 0, Nyima Namru 0, Jamison Carlisle 14, Ethan Harris 4, Channing Nesland 0. Totals 32 (5) 8-12 77.
Skyline 9 9 15 24—57
Camas 22 13 23 19—77