Kendall Mairs did not score a point Friday night, but her performance on defense Friday night was legendary, helping Camas qualify for the state tournament
It was quite simply a defensive masterpiece.
Sure, by the whole team, but also by a determined individual.
Kendall Mairs did not score a point Friday night.
Kendall Mairs also was one of the best basketball players on the court Friday night at Camas High School.
That’s how well she played on the defensive end of the floor, and that’s how much the Camas Papermakers needed a defensive stopper in their Class 4A bi-district playoff girls basketball game.
Camas scored the final four points of the night to secure a 43-39 victory over Bellarmine, clinching a trip to the state regional round. The Papermakers are just about a lock to have one of the top seeds, as well, meaning Camas will be among the final 12 at state in the Tacoma Dome.
But for some time Friday night, there was a chance Camas was going to have to try to get to state through the consolation bracket.
The Lions had the lead at halftime.
The game was tied through three quarters.
The Camas offense, excellent for most of the season, struggled in this one with turnovers and other missed opportunities.
But one thing that was on point, all second half, was the Camas defense. The Papermakers held the Lions to 12 second-half points.
The heart and soul of that defense in this game belonged to Mairs.
“The past couple of games, I’ve been doing good on offense. I couldn’t get something started there, so I wanted to start something on the defensive end,” Mairs said. “It’s about taking leadership on the defensive end of things.”
Get this: Mairs had two blocked shots and a steal on Bellarmine’s final three possessions of the third quarter. On Bellarmine’s first possession of the fourth quarter, Mairs took a charge.
Four possessions in a row stopped by Mairs.
“I just think it’s fun getting in people’s heads, taking charges,” Mairs said.
That passion is contagious.
In the fourth quarter alone, Riley Sanz took a charge. Then Parker Mairs, Kendall’s sister, forced a turnover with her in-your-face defense. There was another blocked shot from Kendall. That was followed by Sanz tipping the inbound play, knocking the ball off a Bellarmine player for another turnover.
Kendall Mairs said everything starts with the guards, denying the initial entry pass, trying to force steals. The bigs — that would be her and Addison Harris — are ready to help out wherever the ball ends up for the opposing team.
“We’re all just backing each other up all the time,” Kendall Mairs said.
Camas coach Scott Thompson was overjoyed with his team’s defense.
“Addison and Kendall were so connected defensively. They were on scouting report all night. They were doing everything they could defensively,” Thompson said.
That Team D concept put Kendall Mairs in position to make play after play. It got a bit ridiculous, Thompson said.
“There was a little run where Kendall had a charge, and a couple blocked shots. It just felt like she was an absolute menace defensively,” Thompson said. “After she took a charge, I looked back at (assistant coach Mike) Dillman, ‘Are you seeing this right now?’ He responded, “Kendall’s amazing.’ She was unbelievable tonight.”
Kendall Mairs was a wall on defense. And then she almost became part of a wall.
The only thing that slowed her down was, well, yes, the gymnasium wall. With Camas up 39-36 with less than 2 minutes to play, Mairs dove out of bounds trying to chase a loose ball. Her momentum carried her into the wall, smacking her forehead. She was down momentarily and had to leave the game to get checked by the trainer.
Bellarmine buried a 3-pointer to tie the game when Mairs was out of action.
No worries, she checked back into the game in order to make one more defensive gem.
Sophie Buzzard had made a free throw for Camas. Bellarmine had the ball, trailing by one, hoping to take the lead.
Naturally, it was Mairs who got the steal. It was Bellarmine’s ninth turnover of the quarter.
Sanz would beat the shot-clock buzzer, swishing a 3-pointer to give Camas a four-point lead with 20 seconds to play.
“We knew keeping a top-10 team under 40 would win us the game, and as you can tell, we did,” Mairs said.
Thompson was impressed.
“We got a lot of really good on-the-court accomplishments this year,” Thompson said. “Holding that team to 12 points (in the second half) in a winner-to-state game might be our best accomplishment of the season.”
Kendall Mairs will remember this one for some time.
And she got to take home a souvenir of sorts.
“I’ve got a little basketball in my forehead,” she said, pointing at the bump caused by her encounter with the wall.
All worth it in an effort to make it to state.
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