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News / Sports / Prep Sports

All-Region boys basketball: Demaree Collins, Skyview

Senior became Storm’s all-time leading scorer and helped team to 6th-place finish at state

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 22, 2024, 6:05am
6 Photos
Skyview senior Demaree Collins used his limitless 3-point range and knack for attacking the hoop to become one of the most prolific scorers in Washington during the 2023-24 season.
Skyview senior Demaree Collins used his limitless 3-point range and knack for attacking the hoop to become one of the most prolific scorers in Washington during the 2023-24 season. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Skyview basketball coaches gave Demaree Collins the green light to take shots some players wouldn’t dare try.

The 6-foot-2 senior guard earned that right. His limitless 3-point range and knack for attacking the hoop made him one of the most prolific scorers in Washington during the 2023-24 season.

Yet perhaps it’s indicative of the well-rounded player Collins became that two of his most important moments didn’t involve scoring.

First, in Skyview’s Class 4A State Opening Round game, Collins requested the defensive assignment on Woodinville’s Jaiden Blackmon that led to a steal and two clutch free throws to send the Storm to the Tacoma Dome.

The following week at the Hardwood Classic in Tacoma, while in the midst of a 34-point outing against Tahoma, Collins took the ball up the court late in overtime, drew in the defense and passed out to an open teammate, Ryan Hanson, who drained the game-winning 3-pointer.

As Skyview coach Matt Gruhler often says, great players make great plays in the biggest moments, whether it’s scoring or impacting the game another way.

The Storm ascended to new heights with Collins, The Columbian’s All-Region boys basketball player of the year, accepting the challenge to do all those things. His elevated play in the postseason helped push Skyview to a sixth-place finish at state, the Storm’s best since 2018, and he set numerous program records in the process.

In Skyview’s final game at state against Kentwood, Collins became Skyview’s all-time leading scorer with 1,256 points, passing Alex Schumacher (1,250 points). Collins also made a program record 184 3-pointers during his prep career.

“It just means a lot,” Collins said. “I want to leave Skyview and be remembered. I want to leave a legacy. So, that’s exactly what I did.”

So what will Collins, along with fellow senior teammates Gavin Perdue and Jaxson Filler, be remembered for most? To Gruhler, they helped re-establish the culture of a program that was thriving prior to the pandemic in 2020, then went sideways during it.

As an eighth grader at Gaiser Middle School, Collins wanted to attend Skyview and play in the Storm’s basketball program. He was granted a boundary exception and came to Skyview as a freshman during the 2020-21 school year.

Early in his high school career, Collins told Gruhler about his aspirations of reaching state at the Tacoma Dome with Skyview, which had most recently qualified in 2020 and 2018.

The results didn’t come right away. Collins’ sophomore year in 2021-22, Skyview was bounced in the first round of the 4A bi-district playoffs. Then, the Storm finished last in the 4A Greater St. Helens League in 2023 to miss the postseason.

“That was a goal of his,” Gruhler said of reaching Tacoma, “and I told him, there’s a lot of work that comes along with that, a lot of trust, a lot of times where you’re going to have to defer but also times where you’re going to have to step up.

“(This season) he really started to understand that difference and I thought at times when we needed him, especially at the dome and in the playoffs, he stepped up.”

This past offseason, Skyview’s class of incoming seniors, Collins included, set the example for younger players to follow with their commitment to the program during the offseason open gyms, weight training and summer ball.

“I thought all three of those guys kind of brought that back to where now we’re back to the culture of freshmen and sophomores looking up to those seniors going, ‘OK, that’s what it takes,’ ” Gruhler said. “That’s what they’ll be remembered for.”

Skyview shared the 4A GSHL title with Camas, then won three games in the bi-district playoffs to reach state. Under the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome, Collins shined.

Skyview, seeded No. 11, began the week by knocking off No. 6 Federal Way in the Round of 12 as Collins scored 13 of his 21 points during a momentum-swinging second half. Two days later in the fourth-place semifinals against No. 2 Tahoma, Collins kept the Storm afloat by scoring 25 of his 34 points in the first half. He made the winning play in OT, kicking out to Hanson for the go-ahead 3-pointer.

“I always had faith in us,” Collins said.

Skyview ended the week with a loss to No. 8 Kentwood to finish sixth at state, matching its best placement in program history.

“It was a dream,” Collins said. “From the start of the season, I already knew that we were going to go there, I already knew that it was going to be a tough battle.”

After Collins’ eye-catching play in the tournament, Gruhler said his phone has been “blowing up” with area colleges reaching out to see what Collins’ plans are for next year. Collins said he’s still weighing his options with a number of visits planned.

As he leaves Skyview with his name etched in the program’s record books, all while helping bring the Storm back to state-level success, Collins has one final message to share.

“Don’t sleep on Skyview High School basketball,” he said.

Rest of the All-Region First Team

Braydon Olson, Mark Morris: Leading scorer in Southwest Washington averaged 26 points per game, earning 2A GSHL POY honors. Senior set Monarchs’ career and single-game scoring records.

Beckett Currie, Camas: Junior was named 4A GSHL POY and led Camas to second straight 4A state berth. Has most points, 3-pointers, field goals and wins in program history.

Kaiden Wilson, Seton Catholic: Freshman made instant impact with Cougars, who earned program-best sixth-place finish at state. Averaged double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds), earned Trico League POY honors.

Dez Daniel, Evergreen: Sophomore 3A GSHL co-POY led Plainsmen to 3A bi-district playoffs, averaging 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and shooting 41 percent from 3.

Hayden Yore, Kelso: Senior 3A GSHL co-POY averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals as Hilanders reached 3A State Opening Round.

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All-Region Second Team

Trey Spencer, Battle Ground: Senior stepped in as Tigers’ top scoring option, averaging 22 points on 50 percent shooting with 6 rebounds, 2 assists per game. 4A GSHL all-league first team pick.

Jace VanVoorhis, Camas: Junior 4A GSHL all-league first team pick provided balance in backcourt alongside Currie, averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals per game.

Aaron Hoey, Columbia River: Junior averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists per game. 2A GSHL all-league first team pick helped Rapids reach 2A state Round of 12.

Malakai Weimer, Skyview: Sophomore showed versatility, upside during Storm’s sixth-place state playoff run, averaging 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists per game.

Cole Chester, Ridgefield: Senior 2A GSHL all-league first team pick led Spudders in scoring (15 points per game) and made team-best 58 3-pointers.

Kody Holcomb, Union: Junior paced Titans with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists per game. 4A GSHL all-league first team pick.