It was fair to begin to wonder if the great Prairie High School girls basketball era had passed on for good.
Answer — it hasn’t.
Putting the clamps on a well-schooled, big-shot Mount Spokane offense, the top-seeded Falcons won their seventh state championship in school history Saturday with a hard-fought 37-35 victory in the Tacoma Dome.
It was the Falcons’ first state title since defeating Franklin for the 3A crown back in 2012.
“To win this thing, you have to play well and be good,” Prairie coach Hala Corral said. “You also have to be a little lucky.”
Prairie post player Brooke Walling scored a game-high 17 points. Her over-the-shoulder shot in the lane with less than five minutes remaining proved to be Prairie’s game-winning field goal.
Walling’s basket gave the Falcons (25-2) a 36-35 lead at the 4:56 mark. After that, both teams combined to miss their final 14 field-goal attempts — 11 by the second-seeded Wildcats (23-2), who only scored nine second-half points.
“Obviously we are disappointed,” Mount Spokane coach David Pratt said. “Prairie played fantastic basketball today. It seemed like neither tea could put the ball in the hole today … but I feel we had good looks.”
It was especially difficult for Wildcats standout Aspyn Adams to find any rhythm offensively. She missed back-to-back go-ahead 3-point attempts in the final 30 seconds.
Clinging to a 37-35 lead, Prairie had a chance to put the game away with Portland State-bound shooting guard Cassidy Gardner at the free throw line with 4.6 seconds to go.
Gardner missed the one-and-one attempt. Emily Nelson threw an outlet pass to Averi Adams in the backcourt, and the guard weaved through a couple of Prairie defenders before firing off a desperation 25-foot straightaway heave that hit high off the glass at the buzzer.
“We stopped the drought,” said Walling, a 6-foot- 3 senior headed to Fresno State next fall. “We did this for the community. We did this for ourselves. I am extremely proud of every single one of us.”
NO. 1 PRAIRIE
NO. 2 MOUNT SPOKANE
P – Shooting: 15 of 40 (37.5 percent). Free throws: 1 of 3 (33.3). Turnovers: 11.
MS – Shooting: 13 of 52 (25.0 percent). Free throws: 5 of 7 (71.4). Turnovers: 10.
P – Allison Corral 3, Kendyl Carson 4, Brooke Walling 17, Mallory Williams 7, Cassidy Gardner 4, Meri Dunford 2.
MS – Aspyn Adams 5, Niveya Henley 4, Jayda Noble 12, Averi Adams, Emily Nelson 7, Emma Main 7.