TACOMA — Even in the toughest defeats, Addison Harris still had a smile.
No doubt, the 48-41 loss to Eastlake in Saturday night’s Class 4A girls basketball state championship game left players reeling with emotion and consoling each other exiting the locker room in defeat.
Yet there’s a silver lining from the head coach, and from players like Harris, a junior.
“We’re going to be here next year,” the junior forward said, “and we’re going to know what to do .We’ve got a chip on our shoulder now.
“I can guarantee you we’ll be here next year.”
While the second-place trophy wasn’t what the Papermakers (24-4) envisioned leaving the Tacoma Dome floor Saturday night, it’s still a big step for the school’s girls basketball program. Second place marks consecutive years of a state trophy. The program placed fourth last season for its first-ever state trophy.
The most successful seasons in Camas girls basketball history in 2022 and 2023 now has the Papermakers etched as one of the state’s elite. And by the way, Camas is set to return all seven players from its regular rotation: four juniors and three sophomores.
That’s a feeling that brought out another smile in Harris.
“It means everything,” she said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction. “We’ll be here next year. We know how to prepare for it and now we’re getting everybody back. We all have all this experience and now we have that second-team state culture.”
While Camas played in its first state championship game, Eastlake played in its second since 2019. Saturday’s final happened to be a rematch of an early December nonleague meeting Camas won, 64-52. Just like that nonleague game, Eastlake came out Saturday in a 2-2-1 zone defense, which worked to near-perfection in the first half and held Camas to its second-lowest first-half point total of the season (12). It limited Camas to 26 percent shooting as Eastlake went on a 22-4 run to end the first half for a 26-12 halftime advantage. At one stretch, Camas raced out to an 8-4 lead only to see momentum go the Wolves’ way.
But like so many times this season, Camas’ defense stole the show. It went to a full-court press and its suffocation zone trap made for difficult Eastlake possessions. Some led to steals on the in-bounds, and others led to converting points for Camas.
In fact, that led to Eastlake calling a timeout with 2:09 to play after Riley Sanz drilled her second straight 3-pointer that pulled Camas within 39-36.
Camas isn’t typically a press team, but it was all on the players, head coach Scott Thompson said. He said that flipped the tempo into the Papermakers’ favor.
“It took the lid off the hoops for us and allowed us to get some momentum,” he said. “That’s the girls putting their heart and soul onto that court,” he said. “It was really special because it felt like we were just going to do anything we could to fight their way back into the game.
“Even in the loss,” he continued, “we showed our grit, we showed our determination, and we showed that we’ve got a lot of fight inside of us.”
It nearly worked for a full comeback, too. Camas got as close as 43-41 with 16.4 seconds to go on a Harris, and a turnover on its second-to-last offensive possession widened the final score via Eastlake free throws.
Sanz led Camas with 15 points on 5 of 13 shooting, including 5 of 9 on 3s. Harris added nine points and 13 rebounds and Keirra Thompson added eight points. Parker Mairs had four assists.
Sofia Aluas led all scorers with 24 points for Eastlake (23-6), which led by as many as 14.
When does Camas’ preparation for the 2024 season start? Sunday, Harris said, without hesitation.
“Yep,” she said.
EASTLAKE 48, CAMAS 41
EASTLAKE (23-6) — Sofia Aluas 24, Krista Kostoff 8, Darcy McCoy 2, Addison Baumgartner 0, Kaylia Jackson 7, Ava Schmidt 7, Natalia Sefair-Lopez 0. Totals 17-39 (2-9) 12-15 48.
CAMAS (24-4) — Reagan Jamison 2, Kendall Mairs 2, Riley Sanz 15, Sophie Buzzard 5, Parker Mairs 0, Addison Harris 9, Keirra Thompson 8. Totals 14-53 (7-28) 6-6 41.
Eastlake 10 16 4 18—48
Camas 8 4 11 18—41