While it got close, Camas never trailed Tuesday night in an 80-77 win over Union to share the league title
It was a huge game.
A league title on the line.
One team had already secured at least a share of the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball championship, but the other team wanted to tie, needed to tie, to accomplish its first goal of this season.
But it was so much more than a big game Tuesday night.
It was a big atmosphere.
Camas vs. Union.
Union vs. Camas.
The buzz started earlier in the evening with large student sections for the girls game. (The Camas girls pulled away in the second quarter and cruised to an undefeated league season.)
Then came time for the boys game.
The Camas band was rockin’.
The student sections were trying to top one another as being the loudest.
The national anthem by Miss Camas Outstanding Teen Morgan Greco united everybody in the gym for one final moment before tip-off.
Then the game started and it was like we were in a time machine. Think back to the Evergreen-Mountain View full-house basketball games in the early 2000s.
One retired athletic director tweeted: “Just like the good ole days. Awesome to watch.”
Yes, there have been big games over the years. And big crowds. But it is rare for two rivals to go down the final regular-season game on the schedule with so much on the line.
Camas would end up with the victory, an 80-77 final to share the league title. It is Camas’ first league title since 2011. Union, by the way, has won or shared a league title for 10 years in a row.
“This is the craziest game I’ve played in, by far,” said senior Carson Frawley, who scored Camas’ final seven points in the victory. “Probably the case for everybody on the floor. Every seat was packed. There were people around the track upstairs. It was crazy, the noise level.”
Oh, and these two teams will play again Wednesday night at Heritage High School. Tip-off is 6 p.m. in a game to determine the No. 1 seed to the upcoming bi-district tournament. (It is not going to determine the league champion. For the record, both teams are league champions.)
To make it to Wednesday, Camas had to win Tuesday.
“They had the home-court advantage the last time. You could kind of feel it there,” Frawley said. “This time, we knew they were going to feel the same exact thing we felt at their place. We were just trying to get our energy as high as we possibly could and go out as hard as we could.”
That is exactly what happened, too. Camas scored the first six points, pushed the lead to as many as 15 in the first quarter, and never trailed in this game.
Oh, it got close. Clearly. Union missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game. But Camas never trailed.
“The last time I remember it being that crowded is when I came to watch that 2011 team win a league championship,” Camas coach Ryan Josephson said. “I remember thinking how amazing this gym is completely packed like that. In terms of coaching, you better make sure everything is in before the game because they’re not going to be able to hear you out on the court. Definitely a special experience for our guys. … That’s something they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. I’m really happy for them.”
The oddity of this result
Look at the score. It was a close game, right?
Sure, a three-point game for the league title. That’s how it is supposed to be, right?
But a closer look at this game shows that this was a dominant three-point win by the Papermakers. If there is such a thing as a dominant three-point win.
Union got a look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.That was the first time Union had the ball with a chance to tie the game since it was 2-0.
Camas went up 2-0, Union did not convert on its next possession, then Camas scored to make it 4-0. The Titans never again had the ball trailing by three or fewer until the final six seconds of the game.
There were no lead changes in this game. No ties. It was Camas, Camas, Camas, until the Titans made their signature run in the second half.
Union rallied to beat Camas in the first matchup this season.
“Union is always a championship quality team that is always going to rally through the tough times,” Josephson said. “You know they’re going to throw their best punches in the second half. Our guys were now more mentally prepared to handle that adversity this go-round.”
Camas built a 20-point lead in the third quarter before Union would score the next 13 points. Camas scored at the end of the period for a nine-point advantage.
The lead grew to 13 early in the fourth but the Titans started another rally. Union got to within three points but Camas answered on its next possession: Frawley with a fadeaway in the key. The Camas defense forced a turnover on the inbound play and Frawley scored again to make it 77-70.
Later, Frawley would get an offensive rebound and putback for a 79-72 lead with less than 2 minutes to play. Union got the next five points. Frawley would add a free throw with 6 seconds left, and the Titans got a good look at the 3-pointer but bounced off the rim.
Celebration time for Camas.
“I’m really proud of the guys. They started the season with huge ambitions on what they wanted to accomplish,” Josephson said. “They made sure they put in the work months in advance. They were united through that effort.”
Freshman gets some big-time moments
Just about every time Beckett Currie did something positive, the Camas students would chant: He’s a freshman.
It happened a lot.
Currie finished with 14 points. He scored eight early in the third quarter, helping the Papermakers go up by 16 points.
“I’m doing everything I can to help the team win,” Currie said. “Big thing was just understanding my role this year. I’ve always played the highest level of AAU, but coming to high school and learning how to love my seniors and show love to all the upperclassmen and just play my role …
“Score when I need to, make the right pass when I need to. Do anything I can to help win the game. Obviously that feels good in front of a big crowd.”
More game notes
Camas had a balanced attack. Frawley finished with 19 points. Josh Dabasinskas and Stephen Behil each had 17. Currie added his 14.
Yanni Fassillis led Union with 24 points. Bryson Metz added 15.
At stake Wednesday
These two teams play again Wednesday for the No. 1 seed to the bi-district tournament. Both teams will have home games Saturday in the opening round of that tournament, which decides which teams go to state. The No. 1 seed, however, has a distinct advantage in the bi-district this season. The No. 1 seed will earn a trip to state with a win Saturday and gets another chance if it loses Saturday. The No. 2 seed must win three in a row to advance to state.