High School

Battle Ground junior and Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry puts family first both on and off the court

Battle Ground junior and Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry puts family first both on and off the court


Being apart of one doesn’t always mean you're blood-related.

In fact, that word often means a lot more than its standard definition.

When groups of people share a common bond or a common interest, they can form that family connection, and that is as thick as their own blood relatives-- and sometimes stronger.

Over the past few years, the Boys Basketball team at Battle Ground High School has been establishing that sense of family-- And a sense of accomplishment.  

Being a family is what Battle Ground Boys Basketball head coach Manny Melo is all about this season.

“We’ve tried to instill [being a family] in our program a lot this year,” Coach Melo said. “We have it on our shooting shirts this year with the word 'family' written across our back and this team definitely feels like a tight-knit group.”



Battle Ground made it to the Boys State Tournament last year for the first time in 17 years.

Within this group of six seniors and six juniors this season, there is team captain Kaden Perry who has stood out as a basketball player and as a person.   

A junior, Perry stands at 6’9” and towers over his teammates. But that's not the only thing that separates Perry from being your average 17 year-old, and it has nothing to do with his athletic skill or work ethic.

Perry has been through more at his young age than some go through in a lifetime.

During Perry’s freshman year of high school, his mother, DeLena, became ill. What seemingly began as a normal bug turned into a rare disease. DeLena was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2018, which is a condition where the immune system attacks the nerves. DeLena was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.  

It’s scary. It was like one day she was waking up every morning making breakfast for me, taking care of me, and then the next day it’s like I’m the one doing that role and I’m the one that has to take care of the family and stuff like that. It’s brought my family a lot closer, and it’s definitely tested our bonds. But all together, it’s made us way closer. – Tigers big man Kaden Perry

“It was a really hard time,” Perry added.

The Tigers starting big man became a master juggler. He was forced to balance the care of his mom, worrying about her constantly, to stay on top of his school work, and still had to find time to improve his hoop game.

Yet, with Perry’s mother being his number one fan, Perry was able to draw inspiration from that and balance his family, school, and basketball life.

When Perry was asked who has been his life's inspiration, he didn’t hesitate-- “That’s easily my mom. I mean she’s gone through so much and she’d always been there, always been my number one supporter no matter what she’s going through. She’s definitely been my number one inspiration.”

Perry found balance and peace with his mom receiving treatment over the last year and a half; he also found time to take calls from colleges who were trying to recruit him.   

Just taking it one step at a time. It’s a lot sometimes – take care of mom here, I know I have basketball -- everything is just a set time, so just trying to find the right balance of everything and making sure that I get my priorities done to get where I want to go. 

The University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the University of Washington all showed interest in Perry.

But, Perry's heart has always been set on one school: Gonzaga University.

"That’s always been my goal. That’s been my dream college for as long as I can remember… I talked to colleges here and there, and got offers [here and] there and was like, ‘gosh, I wonder if I’m like getting to that point where I’ll get that call from Gonzaga or that talk from Gonzaga…’ When they finally offered to me, I was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s the one!’”

Gonzaga is the one for Perry. It’s apparent when talking with him that he can’t wait to be a part of Mark Few’s program in Spokane. The Bulldogs are currently the No. 1 team in the nation after their blowout win over Eastern Washington and Villanova's upset victory over the then top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Of course, beyond recruiting and rankings, there's one thing that makes Perry light up even more than thinking about becoming the next great Zag: It's knowing that his mother is on the mend.

“It’s a slow recovery process, but she’s slowly getting better and she’s walking with a walker now. She’s showing up to my games.”

A smile beams across Perry's face. “It’s a slow process, but she’s getting better.”

Perry couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to look up and see his mother back in the stands cheering him on.
“She’s always been my number one fan... It’s awesome to see her out there now and especially because it means so much more because it’s a lot more difficult for her to get out there and knowing that she’s still putting in the effort to come see my games is awesome.”

It comes as no surprise the word 'family' resonates with Perry. It's one of the reasons Perry was drawn to the Gonzaga Basketball program.

"It’s a team, but it’s a family, as well. And everyone seems to have a really close connection. That’s really exciting.”

After sitting down and talking with Perry, it’s no surprise that Gonzaga recruited him. GU has been known for finding talented kids with extremely high work ethics, who put family first. 

That’s Kaden Perry.

He will join the long list of Zags who have been known as extremely great basketball players and even better people.

That list includes Washington-grown Dan Dickau and Casey Calvary to Canadians Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk. And let's not forget the Stockton family, John and David. 

The German writer Goethe once said, "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

And while there's the old addage, "You don't choose your family," try telling that to Kaden Perry.

He still has a year and a half with his mom in Battle Ground before joining the GU family, but there’s no doubt the Gonzaga program will be there with open arms to receive him when the time comes to transition from one family to the next. 

Perry will suit up with his fellow Tigers in the Les Schwab Invitational beginning on December 26th at Liberty High School. More info about the tournament can be found here.

Live Updates: Les Schwab Invitational

Les Schwab Invitational

Live Updates: Les Schwab Invitational

Thursday marks the start of the Les Schwab Invitational!

The Les Schwab Invitational is considered one of the most prestigious holiday high school basketball tournaments in the nation. This year will mark the 24th anniversary for the tournament, and it once again will feature the type of likely future college and NBA stars the LSI has been accustomed to showcasing for more than two decades.

This year’s tournament -- with three nationally ranked teams along with some of the best teams in Oregon -- will take place Dec. 26-30 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. 

Day One

Game 1 (9am): Central Catholic vs. Grant

Game 2 (10:30am): Jefferson vs. Battle Ground

Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry struggled against a formidable Jefferson frountcourt with a pair of 6-foot-7 forwards to contain him in the paint. Perry had some nice finishes but the athleticism advantage for Jefferson let them wreck havoc in the open court. Once Perry fouled out in the third quarter, Jefferson cruised to a victory. 

Game 3 (12pm): Barlow vs. Churchill

A low scoring half has Barlow with a narrow halftime advantage. Barlow shot 30% from the field while Churchill shot 29%, including 0-9 from three. 

Barlow senior Jesse White completed his team's comeback to tie the game at 52 all with this fadeaway. 

But Silas Bennion got the last word. 

Final score

Game 4 (1:30pm): Clackamas vs. Crater

After having only a four point halftime advantage, Crater blew out Clackamas in the second half to win 71-54. Cavaliers 6-foot-8 forward, and Ducks/Beavers target, Ben Gregg showed off his outside shooting, but it was Crater center Nathan Bittle that stole the show. The 6-foot-10 junior hit from all over the floor and protected the rim on the defensive end to be clearly the most impactful player on the floor. 

Game 5 (4pm): West Linn vs. Norcross

West Linn is getting to test themselves against the 25th ranked team in the nation according to Max Preps, and held their own only trailing 30-25 at halftime. Norcross made a half-court buzzer beater to get their lead to five. Freshman guard Jackson Shelstad led the way for the West Linn Lions gunning from beyond the arc and commanding control of the offense. 

It wasn't easy, but Norcross escaped the first round with a 62-58 victory over the West Linn Lions. Shelstad hit numerous off-the-dribble threes to get the Lions within striking distance late, but they couldn't get over the hump. 

Game 6 (5:30pm): Eastside Catholic vs. Wilsonville

Wilsonville trailed by just two after one quarter of play, but then their 6-foot-6 star Dakota Reber came up with a lower body injury after completing an alley-oop. However, Wilsonville was able to hang around with the No. 22 team in the country according to Maxpreps. 

Eastside Catholic took advantage of Reber's absence to take a commanding 20 point lead. Thankfully Reber came back into the game and helped the Wildcats get within seven points with two minutes remaining, but then Eastside Catholic went on a mini-run of their own to win 78-69.

Game 7 (7pm): Mater Dei vs. Jesuit

After trailing 16-7 at the end of the first quarter, Jesuit came back to take a one point lead (26-25) at halftime over Mater Dei and five-star Kentucky commit Devin Askew. Jesuit's Liam Ruttledge hit two consecutive three pointers to end the half to take the lead for the Crusaders. 

Coming out of halftime, Mater Dei showed why they're among the best teams in the country. They won the third quarter 26-9 to take a 51-35 lead into the fourth. They would cruise to a 77-52 win. 

Game 8 (8:30pm): Lake Oswego vs. Bishop Gorman

Day Two

Game 9 (9:00am): Jesuit vs. Grant 

Game 10 (10:30am): West Linn vs. Barlow

Barlow got off to a hot start leading 23-14 after a floater from Jesse White connected at the first quarter buzzer, but West Linn outscored the Bruins 19-5 in the second quarter to take a 33-28 lead into halftime. Starting Lions center Joe Juhala dove into the media row while saving a loose ball and has his left arm in a sling while icing his shoulder. He appears to be out for the game. 

In the second half, Barlow hung around but was never able to get over the hump in a 61-59 loss to the West Linn Lions. Barlow rebounded a missed free throw with nine seconds left, down just two, but had to throw up a desperation fade away three pointer as time expired that air-balled after an ugly offensive possession to end the game. 

Game 11 (12:00pm): Battle Ground vs Clackamas

In a matchup of 2021 forward prospects, Kaden Perry (Gonzaga commit) of Battle Ground has gotten the best of Ben Gregg  and Clackamas in the first half. They lead the Cavaliers 35-27 despite impressive play from both NCAA bound players. 

The second half belonged to Clackamas who won the game 63-59 behind stellar play from Gregg. The Cavaliers also utilized defensive pressure which allowed them to get out in transition for easy buckets. 

Game 12 (1:30pm): Wilsonville vs. Lake Oswego 


Game 13 (4:00pm): Churchill vs. Narcross 


Game 14 (5:30pm): Jefferson vs. Crater 


Game 15 (7:00pm): Mater Dei vs. Central Catholic 


Game 16 (8:30pm): Eastside Catholic vs Bishop Gorman

For more information about the tournament, you can visit their website.

Battle Ground's Kaden Perry is ready for Les Schwab Invitational


Battle Ground's Kaden Perry is ready for Les Schwab Invitational

Battle Ground High School hasn’t been known for its boy’s basketball in recent years.

Enter head coach Manny Melo and junior big man Kaden Perry, though, and the duo has found some success.

“We definitely have some pieces to make a run hopefully, if we make the playoffs this year,” Coach Melo said.

Last season, the Battle Ground Tigers Boys Basketball team made an appearance in the State Tournament for the first time in 17 years after going 18-10 on the season.  

Battle Ground dropped it first game, 66-54, to Kentridge, but that taste of the State Tournament in Tacoma, Washington has Coach Melo and his team wanting more.

“Obviously, to make it to the Tacoma Dome, that’s our goal. We did it last year. We fell short of our goal of placing and getting a trophy, but just getting back there, we have a couple great pieces with Kaden and then we have Nate Millspaugh, Brendean Beall, coming back from last year too that are two great guards to surround him with,” Coach Melo said.

The Tigers go as Kaden Perry goes. The 6’9” forward has already committed to play at Gonzaga University and now he wants to prove that he has made a big jump from his sophomore to junior year of high school.

We obviously want to make it back to State. For me personally as player, me showing everyone that I’m a different player than I was these last two years. This leap from sophomore to junior year I feel like I’ve definitely improved my game in that I kind of just want like, ‘hey this Kaden kid -- we knew he was good, but he’s definitely shown improvements,’ that’s what I’m trying to show everyone this year. – Battle Ground forward Kaden Perry   

What Perry has already proven in his High School career is that his work ethic is second to none.

Coach Melo described Perry as, “a very hard working kid, [who] runs up and down the floor at his own expense.”

“He just does it as hard as he can even if he’s tired,” Melo said. “He never lets people know that he’s tired. He’s always working hard. He’s a guy that puts his teammates first all the time. He’s always keeping his teammates accountable. He’s just a great kid on the court, very athletic, fun to watch. His teammates love him, the fans love him, students here love him, and coaches love him.”

Now, Perry and the Tigers will get a chance to showcase their talents at the highly regarded 2019 Les Schwab Invitational.

This five-day, 32-game, boys high school basketball tournament features 16 teams chosen from Oregon and Washington’s top 6A and 5A schools, and national teams through a partnership with Nike.

Perry is looking forward to “good basketball” when it comes to the level of competition the Les Schwab Invitation brings.

“Everyone there is supposed to be good. It should be fun, all the game should be close, and we should play our best basketball.”

Participation in the LSI is based on a selection process, which occurs each January.

Coach Melo knows how important the Invitational competition will be for this team.  

“It’s going to be great four games no matter what. All the teams there are obviously very, very good. They were invited for a reason into this tournament. So, just continue to see what were good at, continue to work on what we can work on, and just compete for 48 games. I’m excited. The kids are excited as well.”

Battle Ground will face Jefferson on December 26th at 4:00pm in the Tigers first game of the Les Schwab Invitational. 

Central Catholic's 'culture' carries it to another 6A football state title

Central Catholic's 'culture' carries it to another 6A football state title

HILLSBORO – Nothing speaks to the best of high-school sports better than high-level competition finishing with the victors paying tribute to the vanquished.

Central Catholic broke free from a 28-28 tie in the third quarter and posted the final 21 points of the game on the way to the Class 6A state high school football championship in Hillsboro Stadium Saturday afternoon.

And winning coach Steve Pyne of the Rams took the time, when he was basking in the glory of winning his third state title with the Rams since arriving in 2003,to pay tribute to the coach on the opposite sideline, when he was asked what had made his program so successful over the last several seasons.

“Culture,” he said. “Creating a culture where kids feel valued. We’re honest with kids and we’re pushing them to a level they didn’t know they could get to -- not only as football players but as young men.

“I have to tip my hat to coach (Steve) Coury over there. He shared a lot of things with me early in my career at Central that we’ve adopted and kind of put our own spin on.”

The kinds of things that build character, pride and accountability – the backbone of high-school sports.

Rams quarterback Cade Knighton, who was spectacular Saturday afternoon at the helm of his team’s diverse offense, was asked what made his team champions.

“It’s all about family and love,” he said. “It’s a great community, on and off the field. Little things… like our alumni coming back for Thanksgiving practice, sharing with us.”

Knighton, on a wet and chilly field with occasional raindrops, connected on 31 of 36 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns. He had plenty of help on the ground from Elijah Elliott, who ran for three TDs.

Coury, who was trying to win his third state championship, spent time congratulating Central Catholic players and coaches after the game and then embracing Anthony Newman, the former Oregon Duck defensive back with a long playing career in the NFL, who has been on Pyne’s defensive staff, but is retiring after this game.

“First of all, credit Lake Oswego and Steve Coury,” Newman said. “Casey Filkins (the Lakers’ do-it-all quarterback/running back) is unbelievable. "It was a sweet win. Emotional. I’ve been coaching here for 12 years. Now I’m going to try to kick back. And to go out on top with these kids… It’s all about relationships. It’s not about what I know. It’s what I can help them with life, in general.”

Knighton seemed to feel comfortable throwing the wet football all afternoon.

“We just executed what we were supposed to execute,” he said. “It wasn’t that tough. It was mind over matter. Our coach always tells us how to deal with adversity.”

And the culture has a lot to do with that.

“It’s been a long time,” Knighton said. “We have 33 seniors and the last four years we’ve grown together a lot. We know how we play and we know how to help each other.”

Filkins, as is his custom, was all over the field for the Lakers. He carried the ball fir 238 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 97 and another score. Coury calls him the best player he’s ever had and it’s easy to see why.


Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here: