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Mark Morris gives Bill Bakamus 13th district title as Monarchs’ coach

Monarchs win 14th game in a row in all-2A GSHL title game

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 16, 2024, 11:16pm
4 Photos
Braydon Olson (11) of Mark Morris drivers on Adam Reeder (10) of Columbia River in the 2A boys basketball district championship game at Kelso High School on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.
Braydon Olson (11) of Mark Morris drivers on Adam Reeder (10) of Columbia River in the 2A boys basketball district championship game at Kelso High School on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

KELSO — As he soon closes his high school coaching career with now 13 district titles in 32 seasons as Mark Morris High’s boys basketball coach, crosstown Kelso High School has become a special place for Bill Bakamus. 

Before being hired at Mark Morris ahead of the 1992-93 basketball season, Bakamus spent eight seasons coaching at Toledo. There, is where Bakamus captured his first district title as a high school coach — in 1987. Fittingly, that district-title win came at Kelso High. 

And fittingly, his final district title as a high school coach came Friday night in a 76-53 victory over league-rival Columbia River at … Kelso High. 

“I won’t forget my first one,” Bakamus said, “and I won’t forget my last one.”

The Monarchs (19-5) made it easy for Bakamus not to forget his final one. It’s win No. 14 in a row for the 2A Greater St. Helens League champions, who haven’t lost since a late-December defeat to Lynden. 

Braydon Olson poured in a game-high 31 points — including 23 first-half points — as Mark Morris led from start to finish in an all-2A GSHL district-title game. It raced out to a 16-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the game. 

First-year River coach Mark Ganter was frank postgame, and said Friday’s performance was his team’s worst game of the year. The teams split their regular-season series, each winning on their home floor. 

“Even in the other losses,” Ganter said of his team, dropping to 17-7 overall, “we never played that badly.”

River had to play catch-up all game after scoring its first points at the 2:48 mark of the first quarter. Surprisingly, it has trailed by double-digits in first quarters in prior games. In fact, it had a 17-point hole to start the season against an eventual 4A playoff-bound Battle Ground, yet rallied back to win that game at home. 

Friday, after trailing by 14 at halftime, River hit 3s on consecutive possessions to open the third quarter and Ari Richardson scored seven quick points in the quarter to help cut into the deficit. The Rapids got as close as six at 39-33 inside 5 minutes to play in the quarter. It never got inside single digits after a 43-37 deficit at the 3-minute mark of the third.

“We just couldn’t get it going,” Ganter said. “I can’t put my finger on it.”

Both teams will learn their state opponents Sunday.

MARK MORRIS 76, COLUMBIA RIVER 53

COLUMBIA RIVER — Richardson 7, A. Reeder 1, J. Reeder 14, Fitzwilson 15, Pont 2, Sheron 12, Valdez 2.

MARK MORRIS — Ibarreta 2, Olson 31, Stevens 8, Jenkins 4, Bogner 6, Bjorge 4, Morrow 6. Gray 15.

Col. River    8   15   18   12   — 53

Mar. Mor    16   21   17   22  —  76

15 Photos
Braydon Olson (11) of Mark Morris works against Ari Richardson (3) of Columbia River in the 2A boys basketball district championship game at Kelso High School on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.
Columbia River Mark Morris boys district final Photo Gallery
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