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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Lockdown Camas girls basketball defense slows Sumner in 4A state semifinals win

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 1, 2024, 6:51pm

TACOMA — Sumner’s Lainee Houillon is a two-time South Puget Sound League North Division MVP, a 1,000-point career scorer and the Spartans’ all-around leader.

On Friday in the Class 4A state girls basketball semifinals, Camas’ vaunted perimeter defense largely neutralized the Spartans’ senior guard as a scorer and it made all the difference during a 60-48 win for the Papermakers.

Houillon scored Sumner’s first two baskets, but from there, the Papermakers held her to just two additional scores for the remainder of the game. She finished with nine points on on 4-of-18 shooting.

Camas has faced plenty of talented guards statewide and across the country throughout the 2023-24 season, but the Papermakers usually hold the trump card: starter Riley Sanz often draws the top defensive assignment on the perimeter, and reserve Parker Mairs is the first option off the bench. Between the two seniors, the Papermakers have no drop-off defensively.

“It’s pretty much that simple,” Camas coach Scott Thompson said. “Night in and night out, Riley and Parker defend the toughest guards that we play. Obviously, we’ve had a really tough schedule, so there’s been a lot of tough guards that we’ve had to go up against. … Lainee is a very good player, she’s got a very high motor and she just doesn’t quit. They had to match that energy, and I thought they did a fantastic job.”

Sumner pushed Camas during the first half and closed the second quarter on a 9-0 run, capped off by an Olivia Collins 3-pointer, to send the Spartans to the break with a 26-25 advantage.

“We talked as a team before the coaches came in (to the locker room), we were like, ‘we’ve just got to want it more than they do,'” Sanz said. “That’s really what it comes down to, is just whatever team wants it more … plays harder, has more energy and all those things leading up.”

While Collins, a sophomore, did plenty of damage with a game-high 24 points, the Papermakers held the rest of the Spartans’ lineup in check.

Camas outscored Sumner 18-11 in the third quarter and pushed the lead to double digits with baskets from Keirra Thompson and Addison Harris to start the fourth. Inside of three minutes, the Spartans had a chance to get within single digits on a pair of close-range looks from Houillon. Both shots were altered by Camas’ Reagan Jamison and Sophie Buzzard.

“Obviously they had a girl that was shooting really well for them (Collins), so we wanted to get tighter on (her),” Sanz said. “Another big thing that we had was to push tempo, like how we got up on defense and we started pressing. We were getting more transition buckets and those just really helped us.”

Tempo was a big part of the second-half surge, too, Scott Thompson said, especially because Sumner played into overtime Thursday to defeat Bothell and reach the semifinals. The Papermakers  anticipated tired legs from their opponents as the game wore on.

“We expected this to be really hard. We have a ton of respect for Sumner and their program, not just this year, every year,” Thompson said. “You just have to pack a lunch if you’re going to play them.”

Camas has shown time and again its defense is capable of playing at a championship level, and the Papermakers will get their final test Saturday on the highest stage.

“It’s like the best feeling ever,” Sanz said of returning to the state championship game. “We’ve worked so hard for this — and we’re back.”

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