High school sports: Catching up on basketball

Defending state champions Prairie and Washougal among the teams looking to use non-league schedule to improve

Football took the spotlight on Clark County high school sports into December for the fourth consecutive season.

Just like that, we are almost two weeks into the basketball schedules.

No league games have been played, but certainly some foundations have been set for what is sure to be an interesting rest of the non-league schedule and then a thrilling January.

Clark County has two returning state champions in the sport.

The Washougal Panthers won the Class 2A state title last basketball season. A new year, the Panthers, and all teams, are trying to improve and get ready for January’s push for the playoffs. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Washougal Panthers won the Class 2A state title last basketball season. A new year, the Panthers, and all teams, are trying to improve and get ready for January’s push for the playoffs. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Prairie girls, which won the Class 3A state title last March, graduated three seniors and a junior starter from last season moved to Alaska. That has left the Falcons with one of their least experienced teams in years, maybe even a couple decades.

Oh, and it is Prairie, too, so the program has a crushing non-league schedule.

Off to an 0-2 start, coach Hala Corral said it will take time for this new team to learn a new style of play.

The Washougal girls also graduated three seniors off their Class 2A state championship. The Panthers, though, seem to be in reload mode rather than rebuild. No one is predicting an easy trip to state by any means, but the Panthers have depth. They are 2-1 this young season, including a victory over Class 4A Skyview.

In boys basketball, the Battle Ground Tigers and Kaden Perry are getting a lot of buzz. Perry is one of the biggest recruits to come out of Clark County in years. Only a junior, he has already announced his intention to sign with Gonzaga next year.

Of course, Union does not mind the early attention going elsewhere. However, Union is still the team to beat in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. Undefeated in the regular season a year ago, and with Tanner Toolson back and better, the Titans have to feel confident.

Battle Ground and Union are both 4-0 right now.

(Don’t sleep on Skyview, either.)

In 3A boys, take a look at the Evergreen Plainsmen. A 3-0 start with victories over three 4A GSHL teams.

In 2A boys, Ridgefield and Washougal are off to 2-0 starts. Columbia River went undefeated in league play last year.

Expect another fun Trico League season again. Last season, La Center won the league and made it to the final four at state, while King’s Way Christian, second in the league, made it to the state championship game and finished second.

Back to girls basketball, the Union Titans are off to a 4-0 start that includes wins over Prairie and Hudson’s Bay, two teams expected to be strong contenders in the 3A GSHL. Mason Oberg is back from a knee injury and made eight 3-pointers in a game.

In 2A, Columbia River and Hockinson are off to 3-0 starts. Again, Washougal still has a lot of talent, but the rest of the league does not expect to just let the Panthers run away with the title this season. Last year, Washougal only had one league game within 10 points, and that was a nine-point victory.

In the Trico League, King’s Way Christian is off to a 1-2 non-league start, but the Knights went 10-0 in league play a year ago, so they are sure to be ready. Their losses have come to a top-10 1A opponent and a Class 2A program.

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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