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Mighty Warriors eye state tournament

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In his first year as head coach, JR Camel and his Arlee Warriors are turning heads and generating talk about the possibility of a state championship. 

“We’re doing a lot more run-and-gun, a lot more defense and more conditioning,” Camel said. “There’s no comparison with our team right now. We’re good.”

With an overall record of eight wins and two losses on the season, the Arlee Warriors took down Mission, Charlo and Two Eagle River in under seven days. Their most recent victory against Two Eagle River ended with a score of 107-68.

“We work hard; we condition and lift weights hard,” Camel said. “Coaching is what you can get out of your players. No matter the cards you’re dealt, if you can motivate a player to be the best player they can be, that’s coaching.”

Senior Christian Haynes said the season is going well and that his favorite game so far that season was the Arlee-Charlo matchup Friday night.

“It’s a big rivalry and one of the best games of the year because we live so close to them,” Haynes said. “We scored so much ... yea, we pretty much blew them out of the water.”

Haynes racked up a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds) against Charlo. Camel said Haynes is a “monster on the glass,” and while only about 6 feet tall, Haynes averages a double-double every game. 

“Different people have different positions of what they can do well. Rebounders, shooters, passers, screeners — you just motivate each position with what they’re best at doing for the team,” Camel said of his coaching style. “The big picture - we want to be winners at the end, whatever it takes.”

Speaking of motivated players, Camel said his nephew and starting point guard Zachary Camel is the best point guard in the state with his “pass first; defend second; and shoot third” mentality. JR Camel played at the University of Montana in Missoula and held the steals record at the university for 15 years. This year marks the 20th anniversary of his 23-0 high school state championship season. Zach grew up watching his uncle play in high school and college. 

“He was just a kid when I was playing there,” JR said. “The bottom line is to win. As long as everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do, just win the game. That’s what he’s learned and that’s our goal.”

Zach scored consecutive triple-doubles against Charlo and Two Eagle River last weekend, bringing his total up to three in a row after Mission on Jan. 5. He said his secret is teamwork. 

“You have to keep passing the ball and making everyone else happy,” he said. “If they do good, you’ll do good.”

Zach said he likes everyone he plays basketball with, and they want to win just as badly as he does, but he has mixed emotions regarding his final season at Arlee. 

“It’s kind of like, we have to win. We’re pushing to win state because we don’t get another chance. This is it, and we’re going to do well. I know we will,” he said. 

Zach referred to his team as a, “team of brothers,” a statement reflecting his uncle’s coaching philosophy. 

“Family,” JR said. “Our team needs to be a family so that we’re happy for everybody who succeeds on our team. You’ll play harder for your family, and being held accountable on and off the court by doing the school work and the right thing off the court is very important.”

And even with as well as his team is doing, Camel says they can always do better. 

“The trick is to beak at the right time,” he said. “You want to be playing your best basketball and rolling when you get to state.”


Arlee 107, Two Eagle River 68

Arlee 21 32 34 20 – 107

TER  16 20 15 17 – 68

ARLEE – Christian Haynes 2, Rocky Lewis 24, Zack Camel 19, Josh Reed 16, Isaac Camel 8, Zane Ligas 22, Aaron Fischer 7, Justin Adams 7, Dennis Fischer 2.

TWO EAGLE RIVER – Mike Brown 6, Cole Noble 4, Jaylen Ducharme 16, Will Michel 18, Clay Malatare 17, Byron Carpentier 2, Youstah Eneas 5.


Arlee 87, Charlo 51

Arlee 27 17 21 22 – 87

Charlo 9 10 19 13 – 51

ARLEE – Zane Ligas 10, Christian Haynes 20, Rocky Lewis 15, Aaron Fisher 4, Zack Camel 10, Justin Adams 9, Patrick Bigsam 1, Isaac Camel 7, Riley Rogers 2, Josh Reed 9.

CHARLO – Dalton Delaney 7, Tra Ludeman 6, Webb O’Neill 10, Jesse Long 6, Kail Pope 5, Tristan Santee 8.

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