Last year, Prairie High School junior Kendyl Carson was torching opponents on junior varsity. On Friday, she took it to one of the best players in the state in Kamiakin senior and Butler signee Oumou Toure.
Carson transferred to Prairie last year from Juno, Alaska and wasn’t allowed to play varsity due to WIAA transfer rules, so she played on JV, where she dominated.
In the 3A state semifinals in the Tacoma Dome, she still dominated, scoring a game-high 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to lead the top-seeded Falcons (24-2) to a 67-62 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Kamiakin (24-2).
“It’s been real fun,” Carson said of her experience at Prairie. “They wanted me to succeed from the very start. When (the team) found out I couldn’t play (varsity), they never wanted me to stop or decrease my ability.
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“They always wanted me to be like, ‘You’re going to get better no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re on JV.’ I practiced with the varsity. Last year, I had a big part in practice in helping them get better in game situations.”
Senior Cassidy Gardner, a Portland State signee, added 21 points and senior Brooke Walling, a Fresno State signee, had 14 for the Falcons.
Gardner only had seven at halftime, but scored 14 in the second half including four 3-pointers.
“Cassidy will step up and do her thing,” Carson said. “In the first half, she was not herself. You could kind of tell it just wasn’t the way she wanted to start. I know what kind of player Cassidy is and she is one of the best shooters in the state.
“When I looked at her at halftime, I said, ‘Shoot it with confidence.’ That kid came out and hit like three 3’s for us and got us going. She’s a crucial part of why we won.”
Neither team led by more than seven points, the game was tied nine times, and the lead changed 20 times.
Prairie nearly won in regulation, but Toure made a driving layup with five seconds left to force overtime. The teams traded buckets for most of the overtime session, but the Falcons scored the final four points to secure the win.
“I’m kind of speechless still,” Gardner said. “It’s crazy to know that this is what we’ve been working for, that we worked for this opportunity and we have it. Now it’s kind of ours to go get.”
Kamiakin was led by senior Alexa Hazel, who finished with 20 points. Toure added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Falcons will play for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday against second-seeded Mount Spokane. The Braves will play for third or fifth place against third-seeded Garfield.
NO. 4 KAMIAKIN
NO. 1 PRAIRIE
K – Shooting: 26 of 72 (36.1 percent). Free throws: 3 of 6 (50). Turnovers: 17.
P – Shooting: 25 of 55 (45.5 percent). Free throws: 10 of 14 (71.4 percent). Turnovers: 18.
K – Symone Brown 8, Regan Clark 2, Rylie Clark 14, Alexa Hazel 20, Oumou Toure 18.
P – Allison Corral 3, Kendyl Carson 23, Brooke Walling 14, Mallory Williams 2, Meri Dunford 4, Cassidy Gardner 21.