Prairie pride prevails in semifinals

Falcons go overtime to beat Kamiakin in Tacoma Dome

TACOMA — The Prairie Falcons will remember Friday’s game for the rest of their lives.

If they win Saturday, they will be remembered forever in the WIAA girls basketball records.

“We’re not leaving here without a ring,” Kendyl Carson proclaimed.

Kendyl Carson, shown here earlier this season, had 23 points and 13 rebounds Friday, helping Prairie advance to the Class 3A state championship game in an overtime win over Kamiakin. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kendyl Carson, shown here earlier this season, had 23 points and 13 rebounds Friday, helping Prairie advance to the Class 3A state championship game in an overtime win over Kamiakin. Photo by Mike Schultz

“I’m kind of speechless,” added Cassidy Gardner. “We’re finally here. This is where we want to be. It’s our time to go get it.”

That would be a state championship.

That would be a seventh state championship for the program.

First, the Falcons had to get there

They had to rally, time and time again Friday to get past Kamiakin.

And they had to work overtime to do so.

Carson scored 23 points, Gardner made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points, and Brooke Walling added 14 points in Prairie’s 67-62 victory over Kamiakin at the Tacoma Dome.

Gardner’s 3-pointer with just more than a minute to play in overtime made it 63-61. It was the 20th and final lead change of the game, the sixth of overtime in what was a wild Class 3A semifinal.

 

Cassidy Gardner, shown here earlier this season, made five 3-pointers Friday in the Class 3A state semifinal victory over Kamiakin. Prairie will play Mt. Spokane in the championship game Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz
Cassidy Gardner, shown here earlier this season, made five 3-pointers Friday in the Class 3A state semifinal victory over Kamiakin. Prairie will play Mt. Spokane in the championship game Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

A Kamiakin free throw made it a one-point game, but Gardner and Walling combined to go 4-for-4 from the line in the final 18 seconds to secure the victory.

Prairie (24-2) will face Mt. Spokane (24-1) in the championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The end of regulation was just as thrilling for the Falcons.

Gardner’s 3-pointer inside 90 seconds gave Prairie a 50-48 lead. Then the game was tied at 50, 52, and 54. Walling and Carson accounted for those next four points for Prairie.

“We wanted it so much,” Walling said.

“It was just about keeping our energy up and not letting our heads down when they went on a run,” Gardner said. “We just said, ‘It’s our turn for a run.’”

Carson scored eight of her points in the fourth quarter. She also started the game on fire, with six of Prairie’s first eight points.

“Kendyl came up big for us,” Walling said.

Gardner simply chanted “MVP” when she walked past Carson.

“I live for these moments,” said Carson, who was 11 for 17 from the floor plus grabbed 13 rebounds.

Still, she has not been known to just take over games for the Falcons this season.

“I just wanted to do it for my teammates and my coaches,” Carson said. “They’ve believed in me all year. I wanted to show everyone I’ve got what it takes, we’ve got what it takes.”

Scoring dominated the end of regulation and into overtime, but there were more moments of defense than offense earlier. The two teams went more than four minutes in the third quarter without scoring.

“It was definitely nerve-racking,” Walling said. “Everyone really picked it up, though. Everyone was communicating.

“We continued to grind, and then we were we able to score.”

Gardner had a big first quarter, too, then struggled just for a bit with her shot. But she’s Cassidy Gardner. She knows what to do in that situation.

“Shoot when I’m open,” she said. “My teammates believe in me. They make sure I’m not getting down out there. My coaches, my teammates, they have my back.”

All she did was make four 3-pointers in the second half/overtime, including the shot that ended that four-minute drought.

Prairie is all about defense first.

“In the end, our defense won it for us,” Prairie coach Hala Corral said. “One stop. One possession. One stop.”

Up 63-62 in overtime, the Falcons got that one stop.

Then they made their free throws and booked a spot in the state championship game.

“It’s a surreal feeling to know you start the season off with a goal and these young ladies do everything in their power to get to that goal,” the coach said.

Notes: The Falcons are 2-0 in the Tacoma Dome this week. These are the first wins for the Falcons since the program won the 2012 state championship. … Prairie has won six state titles, four as a Class 4A program. … Haley Reed and Meri Dunford played big minutes off the bench for Prairie in the semifinals. Reed had four rebounds and played solid defense, and Dunford scored four points. Allison Corral had four assists.

PRAIRIE 67, KAMIAKIN 62

Kamiakin — Alexa Hazel 20, Oumou Toure 18, Rylie Clark 14, Symone Brown 8, Regan Clark 2.

Prairie — Kendyl Carson 23, Cassidy Gardner 21, Brooke Walling 14, Meri Dunford 4, Allison Corral 3, Mallory Williams 2.

Kamiakin 15 15 8 16 8 — 62

Prairie 13 16 8 17 13 — 67

 

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