Injuries ruined last season, but now the seniors have helped put their teams in a position to make it to the state tournament
VANCOUVER — The Skyview Storm were in a good place midway through last year’s basketball season when Kazz Parks went down with a knee injury.
Even though she returned toward the end of the campaign, she was not 100 percent, and neither were the Storm.
A year ago, Mason Oberg never even had a chance to put on a uniform for the Union Titans. She blew out her left knee in the offseason and missed her junior season.
Just look at them now.
Parks is a league champion.
Oberg is on a playoff team with a lot of momentum.
They are competitors in the 4A Greater St. Helens League with a lot in common.
The Skyview Storm will host Auburn Mountain View on Feb. 13 in the opening round of the bi-district tournament. They got the home game due to that league championship, going 7-1 in the 4A GSHL.
The Union Titans will travel to face Tahoma on Feb. 13 in the bi-district. They ended up in second place, but they were the only team in the league to beat Skyview.
Two basketball leaders went from a year of disappointment to a season of victory.
“I don’t want to say I was depressed or sad. I was definitely frustrated,” Parks said when she was injured in the third league game of the 2018-19 season. Skyview was 2-0 at the time, but would finish 4-4 and in third place. The Storm made it to bi-district but did not advance to state.
“I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to be out there on the floor with my girls. I wasn’t able to feel the adrenaline of playing basketball with them or having that team-family feel on the court.”
Parks did get back before the end of the season, but it was not the same. She wasn not entirely healthy until late spring and into the summer.
Oberg’s injury was more severe. It happened in the summer of 2018, the last club-ball tournament of the season. A torn ACL in her left knee.
“I drove to the basket. Tried to spin. I planted wrong. Next thing you know, I felt a whole bunch of pops in my knee,” Oberg said. “I was on the ground, and I could not get back up. I knew something was bad right when I went down.”
Once her injury was confirmed, her junior season was finished before it even started.
“I was heartbroken. I knew we were going to have a really good team. It was going to be our year,” Oberg said.
She was worried that she might not come back as skilled as pre-injury. Then her rehabilitation was delayed. She suffered from blood clots, a side effect from the surgery.
“That was scary,” she acknowledged.
Doctors got that under control, and Oberg was cleared to play club ball again late last spring.
Going into this high school season, both were ready for battle.
“In the summer, I got all this training. Everyone helped me,” Parks said. “I just felt confident in myself. I was feeling good.”
The team believed, too. But the team had to get over a couple of huge obstacles.
“Beat Camas and Union,” Parks said of the rally cry for the Storm.
When the Storm played non-league games, they treated them like they were playing the Papermakers and the Titans. Practice, Parks said, was always full speed, with Camas and Union as the motivation.
If the Storm had an unforced turnover, coach Brett Johnson would tell them, if that was against Camas, that could cost them a league championship.
That mindset led to a 14-6 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the 4A GSHL. The Storm beat Camas twice and topped Union by two points in January.
Skyview would lose to Union in the last league game but by then the Storm had already clinched the title.
“It’s everything,” Parks said.
Oberg said the Titans are smarting a bit from that loss to Skyview in January but at least they got the Storm in the regular-season finale.
Oberg, who is a better shooter now than before the injury, made a school-record eight 3-pointers earlier this season. She also made five in the win over Skyview last week. After one, she kept her arm extended with her follow-through just a little longer than normal. She knew she was on that night, along with the rest of her teammates.
“It had me all hyped up that we could come out and beat the league champs,” Oberg said. “Felt good that everybody came together. We were all just killing it.”
Now, both teams will be looking to advance out of bi-district to the state regional round.
Two of their leaders will appreciate every minute on the court, especially after last year.
Parks, who wants to play college basketball but does not know where just yet, said the game means too much to her to just stop.
“I don’t know what I would do without basketball,” Parks said. “Even at home, I’m always thinking about the game. When I’m watching a movie, I’ll think about a pass that I made. It’s been a part of my life for so long. Everything I do, I’m always thinking of the game.”
Oberg, who is going to Western Washington University next year, also has a life-long relationship with the game.
“I wouldn’t trade it for any other sport,” Oberg said. “It has helped me grow into the person I am.”
Injuries slowed them down, but the game, and their teammates, inspired them to keep moving forward.
Kazz Parks and Mason Oberg will always be able to celebrate this season.