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Skyview boys basketball completes long journey to reach state with 58-45 win over Camas

Storm return to 4A state tournament for first time since 2019-20 season

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 16, 2024, 10:18pm

BATTLE GROUND — When reflecting on Skyview’s state-clinching win over Camas on Friday, senior Jaxson Filler summed it up succinctly.

“It’s been a long road,” he said.

Filler wasn’t only talking about the past week, which required the Storm boys basketball team to win three Class 4A bi-district playoff games (two loser-out), ending with Friday’s 58-45 win over the Papermakers, their 4A Greater St. Helens League counterpart they’d faced on three prior occasions this season.

The win was also the culmination of a journey for seniors Demaree Collins, Gavin Perdue and Filler, all of whom came into the program as freshmen during the 2020-21 COVID year following the Storm’s most recent trip to state in 2019-20. Their sophomore season ended with a loss in the first round of bi-districts. Then, the Storm finished at the bottom of the 4A GSHL in 2023 to miss the playoffs, while Filler sat out the season as he worked his way back from a knee injury.

The three spearheaded Skyview’s push to get back to state, and their efforts were rewarded.

“They’ve led this program so well the past four years. Demaree, Perdue and Jaxson all came in in that COVID year — that was so tough,” Skyview coach Matt Gruhler added.

“For them to be able to come in and say, ‘you know what, we’re going to take this program back, we’re going to lead in the weight room all offseason, we’re going to lead by getting guys in the gym all offseason,’ it was really fun to see those guys have the success that they did. They’ve stuck together, and they’ve brought another younger group along. I think the younger guys are starting to see, this is what it takes to play Skyview basketball. This is what it takes to make these trips to state.”

Collins led Skyview with 21 points Friday, all coming in the second half after battling foul trouble and playing sparingly in the first half, which Camas led 22-20.

Less than a minute into the third quarter, the Storm’s leading scorer swished a 3-pointer from the right elbow and was off to the races from there. He scored 11 points in the quarter as the lead changed hands three times, including a go-ahead layup in the closing seconds

“It feels good (and) it gets the team going,” Collins said. “Credit to my teammates.”

Sensing a size mismatch, the Storm looked toward the 6-foot-7 Filler frequently in the fourth. He opened the quarter by converting a three-point play on a layup, then after Camas tied the game on a pair of Beckett Currie baskets, Collins saved a loose ball near halfcourt and fired a pass inside to Filler, who made another basket as he drew the foul.

“He was big for us tonight,” Collins said.

Skyview’s lead ballooned to 10 points inside of four minutes following baskets from Collins and sophomore Malakai Weimer, who added 13 points and seven rebounds, and provided a steadying presence in the first half as both teams started slow offensively.

The post play of Weimer and Filler provided the perfect complement to fellow starters Collins, Gavin Packer and Perdue, who added eight points.

“Last year, we were one of the more undersized teams in the state without (Jaxson), but we got him back,” Weimer said. “Now we’re full power and people are hearing the noise.”

Camas, which will face defending 4A state champion Curtis on Saturday at Mount Tahoma in a winner-to-state game, had won two of three meetings against Skyview before Friday. Most recently, a 40-38 Camas win in the first-place 4A GSHL tiebreaker Feb. 7 meant Skyview needed three wins instead of one to reach state.

Suddenly facing a steeper climb, players didn’t hang their heads, Gruhler said. Instead, they grinded out wins against Bellarmine Prep and Sumner, before getting revenge on the Papermakers Friday.

“I think our mindset was, we’re not going to lose again,” Weimer said. “We’re going to use it as fuel, fill up our tank and go all the way.”

When Skyview scheduled a challenging non-league slate with games against the likes of Glacier Peak, Davis, Kamiakin and West Valley-Yakima, the team’s hope was it would get them primed for a postseason run into state. They’re into next week’s 4A opening round (matchups will be released Sunday) and have every intention to reaching the Tacoma Dome the following week for the 12 remaining teams.

“We still like we’re starting to figure some things out, and I think there’s some real big belief that we can make more than just a one shot and done,” Gruhler said.

“We feel pretty good. Pretty exhausted,” Filler added. “But, we’ll rest up and be ready for next (week).”

SKYVIEW 58, CAMAS 45

SKYVIEW — Landon Webb 0, Javen Fletch 0, Gavin Packer 0, Gavin Perdue 8, Malakai Weimer 13, Demaree Collins 21, Jaxson Filler 16. Totals 18 (6) 16-18 58.

CAMAS — Beckett Currie 14, Matthew Sitler 0, Nyima Namru 6, Jace VanVoorhis 15, Channing Nesland 7, Ethan Harris 4. Totals 19 (1) 10-12 45.

Skyview 9 11 13 23—58

Camas 4 20 11 15—45

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