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No. 1 Camas girls reach 4A state quarterfinals by pushing past Gonzaga Prep 53-31

After slow start, Papermakers match Bullpups' physical play during strong second half

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 24, 2024, 9:28pm
13 Photos
Keirra Thompson of Camas puts up a 3-point shot againstd Gonzaga Prep in a 4A girls basketball state opening round game at Battle Ground High School on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.
Keirra Thompson of Camas puts up a 3-point shot againstd Gonzaga Prep in a 4A girls basketball state opening round game at Battle Ground High School on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

BATTLE GROUND — Typically running like a well-oiled machine, the Camas girls basketball team’s offense was stuck in neutral for much of the first half Saturday against Gonzaga Prep.

The No. 8 seed Bullpups brought a physical defense into their Class 4A State Opening Round matchup against the No. 1 Papermakers, and were within 24-16 at halftime.

The directive from Camas coach Scott Thompson to his players during the break was simple: match their physicality with more physicality.

“Ultimately, we talked at halftime a little bit about, like, ‘Hey, we did a lot with you guys to get you ready for this. We played the best teams in the country to get you ready for this. You need to attack their physicality and compete with physicality of your own,'” Thompson said.

Right away, the Papermakers heeded the message. The likes of Reagan Jamison, Keirra Thompson and Addison Harris began to get downhill. Paint touches led to layups and open 3-point attempts.

After doubling up Gonzaga Prep in the third quarter, the Papermakers pulled away for a 53-31 win to advance to the 4A state quarterfinals on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. They’ll face the winner of N0. 10 Bellarmine Prep and No. 7 Tahoma in a game scheduled to tip off at 10:30 a.m.

“It looked like us,” Scott Thompson said of the second-half surge. “It looked like the way we run offense.”

“They’re a really tough and physical team, so I think it took us a little bit to adjust,” Keirra Thompson added. “But once we did, I think our movement, and even Addie (Harris), we just really pulled through, especially in the second half.”

Riley Sanz scored all 15 of her points in the first half and effectively kept Camas afloat through a slow offensive start, teammates and coaches said.

“Riley put the team on her back and carried us through for the first part,” Harris said. “We were able to stay in the game and stay ahead just because of the defensive philosophies that we have.”

During a stretch of the third, Thompson drained a 3, Jamison added a turnaround jumper and Kendall Mairs followed with a layup off an inbounds pass.

Harris was the closer, scoring the Papermakers’ final six points of the quarter before adding a layup two minutes into the fourth to push the lead to 42-25.

During pre-game introductions, Harris was first announced as “The Red Dragon,” a nickname teammates often call her. According to Keirra Thompson, the nickname dates back to middle school when several Camas players were playing together in a pickup game. While Harris is admittedly lukewarm on the name, it’s an apt description for her style of play, Thompson believes.

“She’s obviously a fireball out on the court,” Thompson said of her teammate.

In the second half, Harris, the team’s leading scorer, showed how dangerous the Papermakers can be with the ball in her hands. The key part, though, is the team never wants to force it her way.

“Addie gets nothing but the toughest matchups. No matter who we play, they’re keying (in) on her, doing everything they can to stop her and that’s what she’s earned — she’s earned it by how good she is,” Scott Thompson said.

“Giving her the ball and just asking her to do everything isn’t fair to her. She’s getting too much attention to do that. So we need to be able to get her the ball in places where she can be successful. In the second half, you really saw it.”

Between Saturday and a stretch of an earlier 4A bi-district game against Sumner, the Papermakers have been able to course correct and play through occasional offensive lulls. Continue to do that next week, and the Papermakers believe their state championship aspirations are within reach.

“Obviously it’s very important for us to be able to hit shots,” Harris said. “We weren’t hitting them in the first half, and if we do that against some of the tougher teams like Woodinville, Kamiakin, it’s going to hurt us in later games. Sumner was almost able to get us that way because our shots didn’t fall. As long as we have our defensive philosophies that we can fall back on, then I think we’ll be successful at the dome.”

CAMAS 53, GONZAGA PREP 31

GONZAGA PREP — Charlee Peterson 0, Mackenzie Prince 0, Belle Hernandez 2, Quinn Pederson 0, Ella Crocker 0, Julia Few 0, Olivia McIntyre 5, Laura Thompson 0, Rylee Largent 0, Gillian Bears 9, Jaelyn Rubright 0, Aylah Cornwall 13. Totals 11 (2) 7-11 31.

CAMAS — Reagan Jamison 4, Kendall Mairs 7, Riley Sanz 15, Sophie Buzzard 3, Parker Mairs 2, Eli Gibson 0, Baylie Farra 0, Brianna Forbess 2, Lauren Hood 2, Addison Harris 12, Keirra Thompson 6. Totals 22 (5) 4-13 53.

G. Prep 7 9 7 8—31

Camas 13 11 14 15—53

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