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.
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“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.