Panthers right where they want to be midway through league play
VANCOUVER — Beyonce Bea thought about the number a long time ago, but she hadn’t given it too much thought recently.
“Oh yeah,” she said, when she was told she eclipsed the 1,500th-point mark of her basketball career with the Washougal Panthers. “I haven’t been keeping track.”
Fortunately for Bea, plenty of others are keeping track of her performances.
Every time she scores, she sets a new school record for most points. On Monday, she reached another milestone as Washougal improved to 6-0 in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League with a 50-41 win over Columbia River. Bea finished with 21 points, pushing her total to 1,515.
“That’s definitely a goal I set for myself, to pass 1,500 points,” Bea said. “Ever since freshman year, this is where I wanted to be at. The fact that I’m over it is amazing at this point.”
If all goes Washougal’s plan, Bea will have a lot more games to add to her total. (Oh, and do not be surprised if she gets to 1,000 rebounds, too.) The Panthers have six more games in the regular season and would love seven or so more in the postseason.
“It is special,” Washougal coach Britney Knotts said. “She just drives this team. She is so competitive, she pushes others around her to be better. It’s really fun to watch.”
“I love it,” junior McKinley Stotts said, referring playing alongside Bea. “It’s always nice to depend on Beyonce. She’s always there for us. She’s an amazing basketball player and she’s like a sister.”
Bea got to 1,500 with a play on defense first, setting up the fast break that she finished on the other end.
That is fitting because the Panthers have put so much emphasis on defense this season.
“Today, we didn’t get the start that was wanted,” Stotts said. “We got a little talk from the coaches. In the second half, we came out with really good defense. We played a lot better in the second half.”
Face it, even with talented scorers, some nights, the ball is not going in the basket. But the best teams can still defend.
“Defense is our main focus,” Bea said. “You can always do well on defense. It comes from the heart and effort.”
Knotts liked what she saw against Columbia River. There were steals and plenty of help defense. Then there were the plays that do not go down as steals but still force a turnover. The Panthers put a lot of pressure on the Chieftains.
“That’s what we harp on so much,” Knotts said. “We’re making sure we are flying around and being where we’re supposed to be. It’s effort, not talent.”
Combining effort and talent has Washougal thinking big.
“I want us to start being able to play really consistent every game,” Bea said.
That would lead to better things ahead.
“Obviously, a state championship is our goal this year. It’s going to be hard to get there, but we are improving every game,” Bea said.
Washougal has reached the state tournament the past three seasons.
“We have a lot of talent, and a deep bench,” Bea said. “It’s really exciting.”
First, though, she said the Panthers have to get past league. Then district.
As far as league is concerned, Washougal is in prime position. Not only are the Panthers undefeated, they have a two-game lead over R.A. Long after the first go-round against the rest of the league.
Washougal is not taking anyone for granted, though. The Panthers learned that last year when Columbia River stunned them in the first round of the district playoffs.
“We need to come out every game not underestimating teams,” said Stotts, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds against the Chieftains. “Last year, they caught on to what we were doing. This year, we might have to change some things up.”
“We were prepared,” Bea said. “We talked about the last time. We used that as motivation.”
Columbia River update
As far as River, the Chieftains fell to 3-3 in league play and hope that Monday’s game will be used to get better for the second half of the season.
The Chieftains went on a strong run in the final 75 seconds to get to within six points before eventually falling by nine.
“An eight- or nine-point game comes down to three or four possessions. There are opportunities there to get a box-out or to take care of the ball,” Columbia River coach Will Jones said. “Empty possessions killed us tonight.”
Jordan Ryan scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter. Her motor never stopped. Frustrated while in foul trouble, she stayed aggressive and stayed in the game.
“She plays downhill,” Jones said. “We stress that, and she really does a good job.”