Plainsmen are all alone in first place in 3A GSHL; defending state champ Washougal preparing for another run
The crowds are back at Evergreen High School.
That’s what winning will do.
The Evergreen Plainsmen took a huge step toward a Class 3A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball title on Friday night.
It is also clear that Evergreen is no longer sneaky good. Evergreen is just really good.
The second half of league play has begun in the 4A, 3A, 2A GSHLs as well as the Trico League.
The Plainsmen might be the surprise team of the season so far. Oh, most figured they would compete for a league title. But with four games to play, they have a two-game lead on Prairie and Kelso, and they just beat Prairie for the second time so they hold any tiebreaker with the Falcons.
Also, featured in this story will be the Washougal girls, who are putting on a sensational defense of their Class 2A state title. Plus a review of all of the leagues.
First, though, there is a buzz at Evergreen. Carter Monda scored 20 points, Jaden Stanley added 16, and Mario Herring scored 13 in Friday’s 63-57 win over Prairie that gave the Plainsmen that two-game cushion in the standings.
Evergreen won despite being short-handed. Zyell Griffin was out of town on an official football visit to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he announced his intention to sign with the Rebels.
Back home, the Plainsmen got the job done. Like they have been doing all season. Evergreen improved to 14-2 overall, 6-0 in league.
“It’s really special,” Stanley said. “Last year we didn’t have a good season. Mostly everybody came back, and we’re just playing really well with each other.”
Their classmates are taking notice, too. It was a big student section for Friday’s win.
“Last year wasn’t like that at all,” Stanley sasid. “I really appreciate it. I like the crowd. They get us pumped.”
Herring said there are three keys to success this season: “Hard work. Better practices. Better chemistry as a team,” he said.
The Plainsmen, he added, have been able to handle adversity. The Plainsmen had a good sized lead Friday but then the Falcons battled back. Herring noted his team’s composure.
“They did give us a run a couple of times, but we stuck with it,” Herring said.
The Plainsmen said that they are motivated by the doubters out there. Herring said the goal is to make it to state, then make it to the Tacoma Dome.
Not there yet, but Evergreen is in a solid position.
“We’ve been pushing each other to be the best that we can,” Stanley said.
From the 3A GSHL boys to the 2A GSHL girls …
The Washougal Panthers improved to 13-2 overall with a 64-50 non-league win over Port Angeles on Saturday. The Panthers scheduled this game late in the season to prepare for the playoffs. Both squads came into Saturday’s matchup ranked top 10 by the WIAA’s RPI.
Oh, and the Panthers are rolling in league play, too, with a 7-0 mark. Columbia River is in second place at 6-1.
Right now, though, it is the defending state champs leading the way.
“It’s so much fun,” junior McKenna Jackson said, knowing every team wants to take out the Panthers.
“Every game, we have to play our hearts out. We have to defend that title and have pride in where we are from” Jackson said. “We have a great program, great coaches, and a great team.”
On Saturday, Jackson got the defensive assignment against Port Angeles’ top player. Jackson got the job done, and Washougal never trailed in the last three quarters. Jackson had three steals and three assists.
Skylar Bea was dominant on defense, too, with six blocked shots. She also had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“These are going to be the teams we are going to face,” she said, referring to the quality competition. “It will prepare us for later on.”
The Panthers also understand they have not won their league just yet. Columbia River rallied and made it a close game the last time the teams played each other. The Chieftains are a game behind Washougal.
“We know everybody comes for us,” Skylar Bea said. “We can’t underestimate anybody. We have to be ready for everybody to give us a game.”
The long-term goal, of course, is to return to Yakima for the state tournament.
“We want to get back to where we were last year,” Bea said. “We just have to keep working.”
Here’s a quick recap of the rest of the leagues.
4A GSHL boys: Union is 17-0 and 5-0 in league and No. 1 in the state. Battle Ground is 3-1 in league and could catch Union. Still, the Titans appear simply overpowering right now.
4A GSHL girls: The Skyview Storm are 5-0 in league play, two up on Camas and Union. The Storm still have those two teams on the schedule one more time. Right now, the Storm are in control.
3A GSHL girls: We noted last week Prairie’s big win over Hudson’s Bay in a battle for first place. Since then, Prairie won again and Hudson’s Bay lost to Kelso. That means Prairie is 6-0 and has a two-game lead over Hudson’s Bay and Kelso. A huge development.
2A GSHL boys: Columbia River just keeps on being Columbia River. Talent graduates. New talent steps up. The Chieftains are 7-0, two games ahead of Washougal.
Trico League boys: No surprise. King’s Way Christian and La Center in a huge battle. King’s Way has the upper hand now, winning the first meeting. The Knights are 5-0 in league play. La Center is 4-1. Trico League girls: The La Center Wildcats have to love how the season is playing out so far. They are 5-0, and they have a two-game lead.