Injured basketball star has no regrets playing for Battle Ground one final season
He missed the final 10 games of his senior season, but Kaden Perry still had his basketball family.
A couple of days after the Tigers’ season ended, and yes, Kaden Perry remains part of that family.
And for the rest of his life, no matter where the game takes him, Kaden Perry will always be a Battle Ground Tiger.
That must be part of his legacy.
The biggest recruit to come out of Clark County in decades, Perry signed a letter of intent with Gonzaga, the top-ranked basketball team in the nation, in November. With COVID-19 numbers rising throughout the winter, there was no guarantee of a high school basketball season.
Plus, there were rumors. There are always rumors. Even before the pandemic, rumors flew.
Perry was going here. Perry was going there. No way could Perry stay.
“Honestly, that’s not who I want to be. I play for Battle Ground no matter what,” Perry said. “I wanted to finish my senior year there. I have no regrets trying to play this weird, funky season with Battle Ground.”
Turns out, no way Perry was leaving. No way.
“It comes down to family. I met an amazing group of guys here. We weren’t necessarily the best basketball team, but there is no other team I would have wanted to play for in high school,” he said. “It’s been an awesome experience.”
He could have done without his last few seconds on the court in high school, though. Perry said he felt a pop in his back as he went up to block a shot, and four or five more pops while he was in the air. He landed, then attempted to stand up straight.
“Big stabbing pain in my back,” he said.
Herniated discs. His high school career ended on May 6.
“No regrets at all,” he said this week, referring to playing this abbreviated season so close to graduation, so close to heading to Gonzaga to begin his college career.
“It was awesome, to finally be on the court, to be with my friends and family I’ve made since the fifth grade,” Perry said. “It was great to give it the last hurrah. It sucks that (the injury) happened. I didn’t step on the court for our rivalry game (against Prairie) thinking this is the last time I’ll be on the BG court wearing a BG jersey.”
“Oh my gosh. The boy has shown me how much heart he has,” said Kaden’s mom, De Lena Perry. “He’s willing to do anything for his team and his coaches. He never wants to let anyone down. … I was really hoping, as a mom, to be able to watch one more (high school) basketball game. Didn’t really think that was going to be the last one.”
De Lena said she is proud of her son for never giving in to all the people who thought he should have moved to another program.
“It should be highlighted when a kid is good and loyal,” De Lena said. “Everyone thinks he should go to another school. If we had more kids who were loyal, maybe we’d have more of a balance.”
Representing Battle Ground, playing for the Tigers — those things matter to Kaden and his mom.
“It was about the family that embraced us,” De Lena said. “It’s bigger than basketball.”
“I’ll have lifelong friends I’ve made in Battle Ground,” Kaden said. “Everyone wants to hop school to school, just trying to get noticed. Just goes to show, if you stay loyal and plant your roots, you don’t have to go to a powerhouse to get noticed. I’m going to the No. 1 school in the nation, just staying at Battle Ground. Stay loyal, and it worked for me.”
Kaden said it was one of his club coaches, years ago, who told him about the benefits of remaining true to his school. Kaden said Lee Laine should get the credit for turning Kaden from a tall player to a tall player who knew what he was doing. It was also Laine who told Kaden how much fun it would be to stick with his guys.
“He was right,” Kaden Perry said. “I wouldn’t have wanted any other experience.”
Moving forward, this injury will require extensive rehabilitation. Naturally, a mom worries for her child who will be going through a difficult challenge. But she said she knows Gonzaga will have the right people there to help Kaden, and there is plenty of time for Kaden to heal. No rush job needed.
“He’s going to be in the best hands possible,” De Lena said.
“I just have full confidence I’ll be able to make a full recovery before the season starts,” Kaden Perry said. “I still have full confidence I’ll be able to do everything I want to accomplish.”
Kaden Perry concluded the interview with a look to the future, and a nod to his past.
“Go Zags,” he said.
“To any upcoming BG guys, keep working. I’m super proud of what they did without me. I’m excited for the next generation of BG.”
The championships for the Class 4A/3A Southwest Washington boys and girls basketball tournaments are tonight. Skyview will be at Union for the boys championship game at 6 p.m. Union will be at Camas for the girls championship game, also at 6 p.m.