Surf’s Up Prairie: Falcons in San Diego, Part 1

Senior Brooke Walling thrilled with team’s mental approach

Note: The Prairie Falcons, one of the top-ranked Class 3A girls basketball teams in Washington, has gone in search of different competition, traveling to California for the Surf N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic. We have asked the three seniors on the team to give us a little glimpse into the trip with this three-part series. Today, we hear from Brooke Walling, a Fresno State signee.

The Prairie Falcons were delayed a bit on their way to their holiday tournament in California, then they had a slow start to their first-round game Thursday.

No big deal for them. They know how to handle such things now.

The Falcons finished strong to improve to 8-0 with a 63-54 win over Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

“First half was a little rough,” Walling said. “We were rusty from Christmas break. We weren’t rebounding. We weren’t hitting shots. Defense wasn’t clicking. Second half, we were rebounding, getting steals, finally making the shots that we needed to.”

Prairie senior Brooke Walling said the team has matured a lot since last year. Always talented, now the Falcons have an edge with their mental approach to the game. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie senior Brooke Walling said the team has matured a lot since last year. Always talented, now the Falcons have an edge with their mental approach to the game. Photo by Mike Schultz

That is the big difference between last season and this campaign, she said. A year ago, the Falcons had a bunch of talent, but were not necessarily tough enough to handle rough outings. There were no seniors on the squad.

“We’ve definitely matured a lot. Last year we would have shut down because we didn’t play well in the first half,” Walling said. “Everyone has grown. We were able to shake off the first half and come out in the second half and do some really good things.”

Cassidy Gardner led the balanced attack with 14 points. Meri Dunford added 12 points. And Kendyl Carson finished with 10.

There are also teams from California, Pennsylvania, and Canada in this bracket. (The event is so big there are three girls tournaments and three boys tournaments.)

“We are definitely seeing teams we have never seen before,” Walling said. “This gets us out of Washington and let’s us see other teams. It builds us and makes us a better team. It makes us work hard and work together. It’s definitely going to help us come the end of February and beginning of March.”

Prairie’s Brooke Walling, shown here last week against Kelso, is one of three seniors who will be sharing their experiences during the team’s travel to the Surf N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie’s Brooke Walling, shown here last week against Kelso, is one of three seniors who will be sharing their experiences during the team’s travel to the Surf N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic. Photo by Mike Schultz

It also gives the players and coaches three days to hang out with each other as a team, but doing things besides basketball.

The Falcons got a late start, though. The flight to San Diego was delayed about three hours on Wednesday. They took to playing cards on the carpet at the airport.

Because they got in so late, they did not do a whole lot. There was a team dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and then they called it an early night because they had a noon game Thursday.

Now that Thursday’s game has ended, the Falcons were looking forward to karaoke night.

“There are a lot of activities for the teams to do,” Walling said.

“It’s super fun. Everyone is laughing and having a good time,” she added. “No matter what, we’re always finding something to do.”

Prairie will be in the semifinals of its bracket with a noon game Friday against Archbishop Mitty of California or Villa Maria of Pennsylvania.

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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.

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