Surf’s Up Prairie: Falcons in San Diego, Part 3

Senior Cassidy Gardner reflects on her team’s day at the beach

Note: The Prairie girls basketball team flew to California in search of new competition last week, playing in 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 Cassidy Gardner, a Portland State signee.

The Prairie Falcons got better, and then they got some sun.

“Obviously, we’re here for basketball. At the same time, we wanted to have fun, have a good time,” Cassidy Gardner said.

The Prairie girls basketball team, scheduled to fly home Monday, went 2-1 in the Surf N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic, finishing third in its bracket. Then the Falcons went dancing Saturday night and relaxed on Sunday with a day at Mission Beach and a meal at In n Out Burger.

“We wanted to end on a win on Saturday and have a good fun Sunday to end the trip,” said Gardner, a senior on the team.

Mission (Beach) accomplished.

For Gardner, Mallory Williams, and Brooke Walling, this was the final out-of-state road trip as high school basketball players.

Cassidy Gardner, shown here in a game last week, had a blast with her teammates at Mission Beach in San Diego on Sunday, a relaxing day to celebrate a strong tournament.. Photo by Mike Schultz
Cassidy Gardner, shown here in a game last week, had a blast with her teammates at Mission Beach in San Diego on Sunday, a relaxing day to celebrate a strong tournament.. Photo by Mike Schultz

“We went on a Christmas trip every year,” Gardner said. “We really wanted this to be fun.”

As a basketball team, Gardner said there really is not a most valuable player. These Falcons all support each other.

Off the court, though, Gardner said Kendyl Carson shined in San Diego. From her karaoke performances earlier in the trip to her dancing Saturday night, and then her adventures on a rented scooter at the beach Sunday.

“She rode that for like three hours straight,” Gardner said.

“She was just up in front of everyone, doing everything.”

Sounds like she was just following orders. The Falcons lost to one of the top programs in the country on Friday but bounced back with a solid performance in a victory Saturday. The plan was simple:

“Let’s give it our all, let’s go out on a win, and let’s have a good rest of the trip,” Gardner said.

The Falcons did just that.

Walling scored 21 points, while Gardner and Carson each scored nine. Williams added eight points as Prairie rolled to a 68-37 win over La Costa Canyon

“We all just wanted to share the ball. We just want to see each other be successful more than ourselves,” Gardner said. “We don’t care who scores. When our defense is good, it leads to us scoring on offense.

“Even though we lost on Friday, we had a great second half. On Saturday, we proved to ourselves what we could do. We ended on a good note.”

Cassidy Gardner is one of three seniors on Prairie’s teams this season. The three seniors are sharing their experiences from the team’s time in San Diego this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Cassidy Gardner is one of three seniors on Prairie’s teams this season. The three seniors are sharing their experiences from the team’s time in San Diego this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

Basketball-wise, it was a learning experience, too.

“It showed us how good we can be if we’re all bought in,” Gardner said. “This trip was much needed. We know what we need to work at. It opened our eyes to how good we can be if we’re all playing together. Now we’re just focused on being successful the rest of the season.”

The Falcons have more than a week before their next game. They started this mini-break with a dance at the tournament’s hotel on Saturday night, then a day at the beach Sunday.

There was shopping, scooters, and a few Falcons rented wetsuits and went boogie boarding.

Playing in the tournament is a way for this team to better itself, to prepare for a postseason run in late February and into early March.

Hanging out together away from the court, though, is what will make this journey even more memorable.

The Falcons have gone to Phoenix, then northern California for two trips, and now San Diego in Gardner’s four holiday tournaments.

“For me, it’s my favorite trip,” Gardner said.

The final one, too, for Gardner, Walling, and Williams.

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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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