Prairie girls return to a familiar place

BRUSH PRAIRIE — After winning their 20th consecutive Greater St. Helens League title this season, the Prairie High School girls basketball team is on its way to regional round of the state tournament.

Prairie will meet Seattle Prep at 8 p.m. Friday at Bellevue College. A victory would send the Falcons to the Final 8 of the Class 3A girls state tournament, to be held March 1-4 at the Tacoma Dome.

Prairie is currently 20-4 overall after earning a perfect 10-0 mark in league play. The Falcons won their first three bi-district tournament games by an average of 25 points before losing 44-26 to Gig Harbor in the championship game of the tourney.

The Prairie High School girls basketball team is one win away from advancing to the Final 8 portion of the Class 3A state tournament, which begins March 1 at the  Tacoma Dome. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground School District
The Prairie High School girls basketball team is one win away from advancing to the Final 8 portion of the Class 3A state tournament, which begins March 1 at the Tacoma Dome. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground School District

The Falcons haven’t lost a single GSHL game in their entire 20-year run of consecutive league titles. Prairie has captured the GSHL title 30 out of the past 33 years. Over that span, the team has advanced to the state tournament just about every year, winning the state championship six times.

“Twenty consecutive league titles is an unbelievable accomplishment,” said Prairie High School Athletic Director Jason Castro. “We’re incredibly proud of our girls and the success they’ve had over the span of the last three-plus decades.”

Dave Galanter has been the announcer for the Falcons’ girls basketball team for the last 18 years and has been involved with the high school for the past 34. He said that the success the girls basketball team has had over that period of time is unprecedented, and goes far beyond just the basketball court.

Prairie senior Jozie Tangeman (12), shown here in a game earlier this season against Union, was named the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League Player of the Year this season. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie senior Jozie Tangeman (12), shown here in a game earlier this season against Union, was named the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League Player of the Year this season. Photo by Mike Schultz

“Since the beginning of their unbelievable run through league and district play, there have been 200-plus girls who were awarded college scholarships thanks in large part to their participation in the basketball program,” Galanter said. “Prairie has established a program that produces girls who are educated and excel on the court, in the classroom, and in their communities.”

“Prolonged success like this doesn’t happen by accident,” said Castro. “Our past coaches have set the bar remarkably high, but each successor manages to continue building on the accomplishments of their predecessors.”

“Al Aldridge established the tradition of excellence at Prairie over 30 years ago,” Galanter said. “Coaches Brett Johnson, Michael Smith, and now Hala Corral continue to walk in his footsteps, instead of being overshadowed by his legacy.”

Hala Corral (red shirt) took over as the head coach of the Prairie High School girls basketball team this season. Hala has received help from former Prairie standout and daughter Ashley Corral (pictured to Hala’s right). Daughter Allie Corral (4) is a freshman on this year’s Prairie team. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hala Corral (red shirt) took over as the head coach of the Prairie High School girls basketball team this season. Hala has received help from former Prairie standout and daughter Ashley Corral (pictured to Hala’s right). Daughter Allie Corral (4) is a freshman on this year’s Prairie team. Photo by Mike Schultz

With nine freshmen and sophomores on this year’s roster, the future for girls basketball at Prairie High appears quite bright.

Prairie senior guard Jozie Tangeman was named 3A GSHL Player of the Year this season and teammates Grace Prom (senior) and sophomores Brooke Walling and Cassidy Gardner were named to the GSHL all-league first-team.

A win Friday over Seattle Prep would advance Prairie to a matchup Wed., March 1 at 2 p.m. against the loser of Mercer Island and Blanchet.

Editor’s note — Information in this report was provided by the Battle Ground School District.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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