Celebrating basketball’s league champions: 2A GSHL

Gracie Glavin, Paige Johnson, and Logann Dukes have all made major contributions to Columbia River’s league championship basketball season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Gracie Glavin, Paige Johnson, and Logann Dukes have all made major contributions to Columbia River’s league championship basketball season. Photo by Paul Valencia

Columbia River girls embraced their roles, then went on a roll to a title; Mark Morris went undefeated in boys schedule

Paul Valencia

Everyone on a basketball team has a role.

There are the scoring stars.

There are the ones who do the little things that turn out to be huge.

There are the ones who go hard in practice every day without the guarantee of playing time in games.

A championship team needs everyone.

The Columbia River Rapids are a championship team, and they found out a little bit more about themselves not on the basketball court but during a team bonding session that included small road trips to four different homes.

The team needed a few cars to get players and coaches to their destinations. In each car, there was a driver, a navigator, and a historian — one who documented the trip with pictures. And at each destination, there was an activity as well as food, all part of a progressive meal.

Logann Dukes, a senior, said one of the moms had an interesting observation.

“Each of the roles in the car demonstrates our roles on the team, how we’re each contributing something different,” Dukes said. 

Perhaps the historian wanted to be the driver. Or the navigator wanted to be the historian. But on that night, they had a job to do.

Same thing happens with a basketball team.

“It is important to see how you contribute to the team and make sure you’re doing that,” Dukes said.

Columbia River, not known for girls basketball excellence, is excellent this season. The Rapids went 15-1 in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League, winning the league title by two games.

“So far, I feel it’s been a really great story. Not only are we league champs, I think we’ve done a great job of representing women’s sports at this school,” Dukes said. “A lot of people underestimated us in the past. We haven’t had the most successful years in the previous years. To go out and win all but one (league) game is just an amazing accomplishment. We can all be really proud of that no matter what ends up happening.”

Columbia River will host Washougal in the District 4 tournament at 6 p.m. Friday. The top four teams from the district tournament qualify for the state regionals.

“If we just believe in ourselves and just have confidence in what we’ve already accomplished, we’ll end up doing the best we can, which I hope is really far,” Dukes said.

Gracie Glavin said she was a bit nervous coming into the season, being a freshman. She remembered one of the first meetings with the team.

“We were talking about all of our goals. Logann said our goal was to win league,” Glavin said. “We really knew we could get somewhere.”

That mindset had to be there from the start. The 4A and 3A GSHLs are smaller leagues, with just six and eight league games, allowing for a lot of non-league games. The 2A GSHL, though, features 16 league games.

Gotta be ready in a hurry.

Glavin said the tone was set early. It was Dec. 6 when Columbia River took on Woodland in the first league game.

“We have to win this game if we want to make something happen,” Glavin recalled thinking.

The Rapids got it done. Then another league game. Then it was time to take on Mark Morris.

“The first moment for me, when I felt we knew we could go really far, was the game against Mark Morris,” Dukes said. “They were predicted to be the best team in our league. We’ve never beat them in my years playing basketball. Not only beating them but beating them by 10 points was really just a testament to how good we could be as a team.”

Paige Johnson, a junior playing basketball for the first time with the Rapids after injuries took away her freshman and sophomore campaigns, was a bit more conservative.

“After we beat every single team in the first round (of league play), that’s when I realized we could do it,” Johnson said. “We knew we were going to get better.”

Interestingly enough, the Rapids would lose their next game, falling to 8-1 in league play. The Rapids understood what happened, focused on fixing those mistakes, then ran the table to go 15-1.

Something else happened along the way, too. The rest of the school took notice. 

Dukes said people have the tendency to overlook girls basketball. It seems like the students always ask the boys when their next game is scheduled. It took some time, but the girls started getting questions, too. 

The last home game for Columbia River also had a huge student section.

“It was really inspiring,” Dukes said. “It was really great. It really showed that not only are we respecting the hard work we put in, but other people in the school are, too.”

Everyone has a role at Columbia River.

The players play.

The coaches coach.

And the students cheer.

Columbia River girls basketball has arrived, first with a championship mentality, and then with a championship.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Johnson said. “I think it’s really cool. I’m just proud of us.”

Next: Columbia River hosts Washougal at 6 p.m. Friday in the district tournament. The top four teams from the district tournament qualify for state regionals.

Mark Morris Boys Basketball

The Mark Morris Monarchs went undefeated in the 2A GSHL to claim the top seed. The Monarchs beat second-place R.A. Long by two points in the final game of the regular season to claim the outright league title.

Mark Morris, R.A. Long, Woodland, Ridgefield, and Columbia River all reached the eight-team district tournament from the 2A GSHL.

Next: The boys district tournament starts Saturday. The top four teams qualify for the state regionals.

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