Playoff basketball: Prairie Power x 2

Falcons celebrate twice Wednesday; Plus other bracket updates

BRUSH PRAIRIE — It all worked out perfectly for the Prairie Falcons on Wednesday.

It all worked out perfectly for the Prairie Falcons on Wednesday.

OK, promise not to repeat every sentence the rest of this story, but it was a double-the-celebration-kind-of-night at Prairie.

The girls basketball team opened the Class 3A bi-district tournament with an easy win over Bonney Lake.

Then the boys basketball team opened the 3A bi-district tournament, pulling away late for a victory over Bonney Lake.

Prairie took advantage of a rare girls/boys doubleheader in this format. The top seeds always get a home game in the first round of bi-district, but usually the girls play one day and the boys play the next day. Because Bonney Lake turned out to be the opponent in both games, the schools agreed to stage a doubleheader, giving Bonney Lake a bit of a break on the travel budget.

The Prairie student section got two playoff games for the price of one Wednesday night, cheering the girls and boys teams to victories in the bi-district tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Prairie student section got two playoff games for the price of one Wednesday night, cheering the girls and boys teams to victories in the bi-district tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz

The boys got to watch the first half of the girls game before preparing for their contest. The girls got out of their post-game meeting in time to watch the boys. And the student section and the pep band rocked out all night.

“We support the boys. They support us,” said Prairie’s Meri Dunford. “Just brings both programs together.”

“It’s going to be a fun night,” Braiden Broadbent said before he and his teammates watched the girls play. “We both want each other to do as good as we can. We want them to go far, and they want us to go far.”

After both teams won Wednesday, they are both in position to earn a trip to the regional round of state if they can win their next games in bi-district.

Oh, and another advantage for the doubleheader on Wednesday — for the boys anyway — is one more day to prepare for the second round. The boys were originally scheduled to play Thursday with the second round on Saturday.

Girls: Prairie 66, Bonney Lake 19

Brooke Walling was 8 for 10 from the floor and scored 19 points, Cassidy Gardner was 6 for 8 and added 18 points, and the Falcons cruised into the bi-district quarterfinals.

Oh, and that Prairie student section played a key role in the most memorable play of the night.

Dunford got a steal, crossed half-court, then tossed up a running 3-pointer from about 30 feet away and made the shot … with roughly eight seconds left in the quarter.

Meri Dunford (3) drives toward the basket against Bonney Lake. Dunford had a memorable play with a steal and a long 3-pointer to end the first quarter. Photo by Mike Schultz
Meri Dunford (3) drives toward the basket against Bonney Lake. Dunford had a memorable play with a steal and a long 3-pointer to end the first quarter. Photo by Mike Schultz

“It wasn’t pretty,” Dunford said with a smile.

Here’s what happened, according to Dunford. Bonney Lake had the ball with less than 30 seconds to play in the quarter. The Prairie student section was trying to fool the Panthers by “counting down” the clock long before the clock was to hit zero. Dunford heard the crowd chanting “5, 4, 3 …” when she got the steal.

“I heard them, but I didn’t look at the clock,” she said.

Instead, she got the shot off before the faux countdown hit zero.

Goes down in the books as a 3-pointer.

Mallory Williams (13) gets aggressive inside against Bonney Lake. Williams scored eight points to go with five rebounds and three steals in the win. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mallory Williams (13) gets aggressive inside against Bonney Lake. Williams scored eight points to go with five rebounds and three steals in the win. Photo by Mike Schultz

Dunford, Lauren Vreeken, and the rest of the reserves from Prairie had good moments throughout the night. While this game was not close, the reserves know they will be needed later in the postseason if Prairie is to accomplish its goal. So they use their time in blowouts to prepare for closer games, too.

Vreeken hit a 3-pointer and scored seven points. She credited the Falcons for sharing the scoring load.

“It’s great to play with unselfish teammates,” she said.

She also knows her role.

“Just bring a lot of energy on defense and work hard the whole time I’m out there,” Vreeken said.

The Prairie girls play again at 7:45 p.m. Friday against Timberline at Bellarmine Prep High School. The winner of that game advances to the bi-district semifinals and, more importantly, clinches a trip to the regional round of state.

Boys: Prairie 53, Bonney Lake 41

Braiden Broadbent went 5 for 9 from 3-point range and scored 23 points, leading Prairie to its opening round victory.

Braiden Broadbent (4) scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, helping Prairie to a 53-41 win over Bonney Lake. Photo by Mike Schultz
Braiden Broadbent (4) scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, helping Prairie to a 53-41 win over Bonney Lake. Photo by Mike Schultz

Kameron Osborn had 14 of his 17 points in the first half, then turned into an assist machine in the second half. Broadbent scored 11 of his points in the third quarter when Prairie jumped out to a double-digit lead.

Kameron Osborn (3) made four 3-pointers and scored 17 points in Prairie’s win over Bonney Lake. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kameron Osborn (3) made four 3-pointers and scored 17 points in Prairie’s win over Bonney Lake. Photo by Mike Schultz

Prairie shot 29 percent from the floor in the first half but still managed to have a lead thanks to 12 offensive rebounds, providing for more opportunities to score.

Logan Reed ended up with four offensive rebounds, including one in the third quarter that he put back in to give Prairie a 12-point advantage.

“I’m not the most talented guy. I just hustle. It’s a mentality to get the rebounds,” Reed said.

Reed finished with four points. He does not need to score in bunches for Prairie to succeed.

“Just do my job and stick to it,” he said. “Everyone has a role. We did pretty good at that tonight. Everyone played their part.”

Prairie’s next game is 1:45 p.m. Saturday against Timberline or Stadium. The winner of Saturday’s game will clinch a berth to the state regional round.


Other bi-district news

The 4A boys bi-district started Wednesday as well. Union got a win, but Skyview took a loss.

Zach Reznick made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points and Jason Franklin Jr. added 13 points, leading Union to a 63-51 win over Mount Rainier. Union will take on Auburn at 6 p.m Friday at Puyallup High School. The winner advances to the state regional round. And if Union gets to the state regional round, the Titans will be guaranteed a trip to the Tacoma Dome based on their RPI.

The Skyview Storm, who put together their most impressive regular season in years, must win their next two games in order to have a shot at advancing to state. They put themselves in that hole with a 58-54 loss to Kennedy Catholic on Wednesday. The Storm were held to eight points in the final quarter.

Skyview plays Auburn Mountainview at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Wilson High School in the consolation bracket. The Storm must win that game and then another on Monday to get another shot at state. If Skyview does win the next two, the Storm would get two more games in the consolation bracket, needing to win one to advance to state.

In the 3A girls bi-district, Evergreen and Hudson’s Bay both lost their openers Wednesday. They play each other Friday in the consolation bracket, meaning one will advance to next week. Friday’s winner would then have to win two more games to reach the regional round of state.

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