Basketball: Prairie girls feel right at home with another state berth

Seniors never lost a home game in careers

VANCOUVER — The Prairie Falcons got it done again.

They are going to state again.

They won at home again.

This is the norm for the Prairie girls basketball team.

Prairie’s Cassidy Gardner and Dayna Vera celebrate another victory, another trip to state. Prairie secured its 22nd consecutive trip to state with a 61-35 win over Lincoln on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie’s Cassidy Gardner and Dayna Vera celebrate another victory, another trip to state. Prairie secured its 22nd consecutive trip to state with a 61-35 win over Lincoln on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Schultz

Still, it should not go overlooked. These accomplishments should never be taken for granted.

Every season is different.

The work that the Prairie basketball players put in every season, though, is similar.

Which is how seniors Cassidy Gardner and Mallory Williams get to say they played all four years without losing a game on their home floor. Brooke Walling, also a senior, went undefeated at home, too. She moved to Prairie as a sophomore.

Mallory Williams made both of her 3-point attempts Wednesday, plus she grabbed 11 rebounds in a victory over Lincoln. She and her senior teammates never lost a game at home in their careers. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mallory Williams made both of her 3-point attempts Wednesday, plus she grabbed 11 rebounds in a victory over Lincoln. She and her senior teammates never lost a game at home in their careers. Photo by Mike Schultz

Walling had 18 points and five blocked shots Wednesday, Gardner had 17 points and seven assists, and Williams had 11 rebounds and three assists as Prairie rolled past Lincoln 67-36 in the 3A bi-district girls basketball tournament quarterfinal at Prairie High School.

Prairie will play Bethel on Friday in Puyallup in the bi-district semifinals. The Falcons, who improved to 20-1 this season and are No. 1 in the Class 3A RPI rankings, secured a berth to the Sweet 16. And with that RPI, they are assured of a trip to the Tacoma Dome for at least the round of 12.

Before looking forward, though, there were a few seconds allowed to reflect.

Williams said it is special to “be part of something this big,” never losing a game at the high school.

“It’s really nice that we got to go out and make that impact,” Gardner said. “It’s kind of motivating to end here. We were 36-0 at home. Now let’s go to state. It’s our shot. Let’s get it.”

By the time the team gets to practice Thursday, the focus will only be on what’s next.

The rest of the bi-district games will be at neutral courts. The state regional round is expected to be played close to Prairie — possibly in Battle Ground — but the Falcons are done with true home games this season.

Plus, there is another place the Falcons want to make their home. Prairie has made it to the Tacoma Dome the past two seasons but has not won a game there.

“It’s pretty cool to be going to state, but we want to win,” Gardner said. “This year, there is a difference in our team.”

“Our goal is not just to get to state,” Williams said. “Our goal is to go there and do our job and win a state championship.”

The Falcons reached the round of 16 for the 22nd consecutive year with Wednesday’s win.

Allison Corral scored 10 points to help Prairie cruise into the Class 3A bi-district semifinals. Photo by Mike Schultz
Allison Corral scored 10 points to help Prairie cruise into the Class 3A bi-district semifinals. Photo by Mike Schultz

Walling had 11 points and three blocked shots in the first quarter, setting the tone. Gardner finished with three 3-pointers. And Williams had the play of the night. She blocked a shot, grabbed the rebound, and started the fast break. She trailed the play, received a pass, and drained a 3-pointer.

“Sometimes I think Mallory gets overlooked because she does not take the volume of shots. She is kind of our unsung hero,” Prairie coach Hala Corral said. “I don’t think it bothers her because she just wants to win. She’s taken on our whole team concept probably more than anyone else.”

Williams has dedicated herself to making a difference beyond scoring.

“I’m just trying to get every ball as I possibly can,” she said of her passion for rebounding. “I want our team to get as many possessions as we possibly can. I think I’ve been more aggressive. There is more fire in me to go after all the rebounds.”

Prairie’s passing is on point, too. The Falcons had 24 assists on 27 field goals.

“Sometimes we’re too unselfish,” Gardner said because everyone wants to make the extra pass.

“We’re just really good at sharing the ball and wanting each other to score,” she said.

Well, it is working.

The Prairie girls basketball team put in the work again, and is going to state again.

Prairie got to celebrate twice Wednesday. The boys basketball team got a road win over Timberline to qualify for the state round of 16.

Meanwhile, the Union boys cruised to a victory in the 4A bi-district quarterfinals to make it to state. And the Camas girls also reached the bi-district semifinals and qualified for state.

Here are notes and links from all eight tournaments featuring 4A, 3A, 2A, and 1A boys and girls postseason basketball.

4A boys:

Ethan Smith made six 3-pointers and scored 20 points and Tanner Toolson added 14 points, as Union improved to 22-0 this season and qualified for state with a big win over Olympia. The Titans, No. 1 in RPI, will face No. 4 Federal Way in the bi-district semifinals Friday night.

The Skyview boys lost to Curtis 74-63 in the quarterfinals. Skyview falls to the consolation bracket and will play Sumner on Thursday. This is a loser-out game. Thursday’s winner will then play Friday and Saturday and must win one to make it to state.

Battle Ground saved its season for at least another day, rolling past Auburn 69-37. The Tigers take on Olympia tonight. They are in the same round as Skyview. Must win tonight, then would have two chances to make state.

http://www.4agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2824&sport=3

4A girls:

This going-to-state thing is officially a trend for the Camas Papermakers. Camas punched its ticket to state for the third consecutive season. The Papermakers opened a 10-point first-quarter lead and never looked back, beating Hazen in the bi-district quarterfinals 58-33. Camas will face Kentridge in the semifinals on Friday.

The Union Titans just missed joining Camas in making it to state. Bellarmine topped the Titans 53-51, sending Union into the consolation bracket. The Titans play again Thursday in a loser-out contest against Curtis.

Skyview, meanwhile, kept its season alive with a consolation victory over Kentwood, 58-32. Skyview will play Hazen in a loser-out game Thursday.

http://www.4agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2825&sport=12

3A boys:

Kameron Osborn hit the game-winner, and the Prairie Falcons have qualified for the state round of 16 after a 56-54 victory at Timberline. The Falcons will play Capital in the bi-district semifinals on Thursday.

Lincoln got the best of Mountain View 87-65, sending the Thunder into the consolation bracket. Mountain View will play Shelton on Thursday. The Thunder have to win three in a row to make it to state.

http://www.3agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2822&sport=3

3A girls:

We know about Prairie.

Hudson’s Bay fell to Gig Harbor 65-48 in another quarterfinal game. The Eagles play Bonney Lake on Thursday and must win three in a row to qualify for state.

http://www.3agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2823&sport=12

2A boys:

Top-seed Columbia River takes on Ridgefield in a semifinal tonight at Hockinson High School. The winner will qualify for state. Hockinson, meanwhile, will try to survive a consolation game.

http://www.2agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2859&sport=3

2A girls:

Washougal is playing a semifinal game tonight, hoping to clinch a berth to state. Woodland, Ridgefield, and Columbia River will be in action in consolation bracket.

http://www.2agshl.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2860&sport=12

1A boys:

Seton Catholic kept its season alive with an 87-42 win over Tenino in the consolation bracket Wednesday. The Cougars play Forks tonight.

La Center and King’s Way Christian will play Friday night for the district title.

1A girls:

King’s Way Christian hosts a semifinal tonight. La Center is playing in the consolation bracket.

http://www.tricoathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2793&sport=12

We'd love to hear your comments!

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

Related posts

Follow this blog

Get a daily email of all new posts.