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Camas girls claim back-to-back 4A bi-district championships with 63-44 defeat of Bellarmine Prep

Papermakers remain undefeated against teams from Washington heading into next week’s 4A state opening round

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 17, 2024, 7:47pm

TACOMA — Moments like Saturday are ones the Camas girls basketball team takes time to savor over the course of a long season.

The Papermakers repeated as Class 4A bi-district champions with a 63-44 win over Bellarmine Prep at Tacoma Community College to remain undefeated against Washington teams they’ve faced this season.

They led wire-to-wire against the Lions and found tremendous balance within their rotation, led by Riley Sanz’s 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists; 12 points and nine boards from Addison Harris; plus, 10 points, six boards and three steals from Reagan Jamison.

So, in essence, a performance on par with what the Papermakers expect. And while they’ve put a lot of pressure on themselves in their singularly-focused mission to capture the 4A state title, claiming their second bi-district title in school history is another accomplishment that isn’t lost on them.

“It’s our last year playing together as a high school team, so it’s really important to just enjoy all the last moments and memories,” said senior Parker Mairs, one of five seniors along with Sanz, Harris, Jamison and Brianna Forbess.

“Obviously our goal is bigger, but we want to take these small steps, like, we can’t take them for granted,” Sanz said. “Because a lot of people think we’re gonna get upset or blah blah blah, but we just keep pushing through, we keep telling them wrong.”

Step by step, the Papermakers slowly wore down an undermanned but gritty Lions squad, which has played without senior Kiara Stone this season due to a knee injury.

Bellarmine’s half-court defense did its job for stretches against Camas, but the Papermakers found other ways to be effective.

In transition, where they scored four of their first five baskets to start the game. On second-chance opportunities from 15 offensive rebounds. And, although they shot only 9-of-29 (31 percent) from 3-point range, several of the makes they had were major momentum shifters.

Trailing 28-22 nearing halftime, Bellarmine had a chance to get within one possession but missed a 3-pointer. Mairs, who added nine points, hit a shot from deep to send the Papermakers to the break with a nine-point lead that grew to 15 after a pair of baskets from Keirra Thompson and Jamison to start the third.

After Bellarmine rallied to get within eight points on baskets from Jada Travis and Teagan Ellington, Camas clapped back with three straight triples, including two from sophomore Baylie Farra off the bench to go up 46-29 with one minute left in the third.

“She came in ready to fire, and she hit her first one,” Scott Thompson said. “Seeing her step up and hit a couple 3’s in big moments for us, help us go on a little run, that was really fun, that was really good to see because Baylie is a good shooter and she’s been putting a ton of work.”

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Outscoring the Lions 17-9 in the third was also indicative of the Papermakers’ airtight perimeter defense.

“Everyone on defense, me, Sophie (Buzzard) and Parker were all face-guarding our girls,” Sanz said, “and if we don’t do that the game is a whole different story.”

“Our team is really confident, we work hard in practice and do our drills really efficiently,” Mairs added, “so I think that really shows on the court in games, too.”

Camas (18-6) has won 13 games against Washington schools, though its grueling non-leauge schedule against a handful of East Coast and California teams has been a detractor in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s RPI computer rankings has Camas as the No. 9 4A team.

The Papermakers have used that as motivation, and believe their resume makes them worthy of the 4A state tournament’s No. 1 seed. Scott Thompson, however, said the team’s focus remains on what they can control, and how they can improve.

But if they were to make an argument — beyond their results on the court — they’d point to how hard they’ve worked to reach this point.

“I think just all the hours and work that we put in. Obviously, it goes unseen, people don’t know,” Sanz said. “But in practice, everyone’s locked in, we don’t make mistakes … we don’t mess around.”

Pairings for the 4A opening round of state will be announced on Sunday.

CAMAS 63, BELLARMINE PREP 44

BELLARMINE PREP — Saphia Lazrak 0, Kyla Frazier 2, Teagan Ellington 12, Stella Wiggins 4, Jaela Jones 2, Jada Travis 12, Melina Petramalo 5, Ayla Flynn 0, Keira Leingang 7. Totals 17 (4) 6-7 44.

CAMAS — Reagan Jamison 10, Riley Sanz 14, Sophie Buzzard 2, Parker Mairs 9, Baylie Farra 6, Brianna Forbess 2, Lauren Hood 0, Addison Harris 12, Keirra Thompson 8. Totals 27 (9) 0-1 63.

Bellarmine 12 10 9 13—44

Camas 17 14 17 15—63

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