KENT — The Prairie Falcons are the Class 3A bi-district girls basketball champions again, but this was one strange trip they took to get to the ShoWare Center.
Cori Woodward scored 19 points and Megan Lindsley added 17 Monday, leading the Falcons to a 59-44 victory over Wilson of Tacoma to clinch the top seed going into Saturday’s regional round. Prairie (23-1) will face Juanita (21-5) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Rogers High School in Puyallup.
The Falcons surely will get an early start for that game -- a win-and-go-to-state/lose-and-go-home contest.
The Falcons thought they had plenty of time to travel to Kent for the bi-district title game. Nope.
They were slowed twice from a couple of crashes involving other vehicles, even had to detour off the freeway for one incident. They arrived late, and the game was delayed 20 minutes as the Falcons rushed from the bus to the locker and then to the floor for a 15-minute warm-up.
Their defense showed early, but not their offense. Prairie led 15-9 at the half.
“He told us in the locker room to get off the bus,” Woodward said, referring to coach Al Aldridge’s halftime instructions.
“So we got off the bus,” Lindsley added.
Woodward scored 16 of her points in the second half and Lindsley had 15 — including a stretch of 10 in a row in a high-scoring fourth quarter.
After both teams seemingly protested any offense for a half, they each scored 30 points in the final quarter. Prairie was 9 of 12 from the floor with two 3-pointers and 10 of 14 from the line.
By the start of that run, Prairie had a 15-point advantage, and Wilson (20-3) only got as close as nine points once. In one frantic, 25-second stretch, the Rams connected on two 3-pointers, while Lindsley had a 3-pointer and a layup.
“We had jitters at the beginning of the game,” Lindsley said. “But we got done with what we came here to get done.”
“It’s OK. We pulled through,” Woodward said.
Prairie led 7-6 after the first period, then held Wilson scoreless for the last 5 minutes, 14 seconds of the half. Still, the Falcons could only manage a six-point lead.
“That’s what held us in it,” Woodward said. “The reason we had the lead is we kept them from scoring.”
Prairie had nine steals and forced 20 turnovers in that first half. Jackie Lanz ended up with five steals to lead the defense. She also had 11 points and four assists.
That defensive effort continued in the third quarter. Wilson did not score until 5:13 remained in the period, meaning the Rams went more than a full quarter of clock time without a point.
Woodward had a three-point play in the third and also drained a 3-pointer. Lindsley, who did not take a shot in the first half, also got going with a 3-pointer. Then they each scored 10 points in the final period.
“It was nice to get a good win against a quality team,” Aldridge said.
Wilson has been ranked third in the state by the Seattle Times for much of the season. Prairie is No. 1.
“But we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Aldridge said.
Included in that practice plan will surely be a new travel schedule, too.
“Our day was a little bit of chaos,” Aldridge said. “It definitely affected our routine. We’re always here an hour early. But I’m not going to put any excuses out there for how we played.”
Besides, he noted, the defense came to play early, allowing the offense to catch up.
No matter how it happened, the players accomplished their goal. This is Prairie’s second consecutive 3A bi-district championship. The Falcons also won three bi-district titles when they were a 4A program.
“We got another one of the nets,” Lindsley said.
PRAIRIE 59, WILSON 44
WILSON (20-3) — Kaysha Fox 19, Dejah Rogers 8, Bethany Mongomery 7, Tia Briggs 6, Carsen Stanley 4, Valentina Sakica 0, Alexis Grant 0, Nina Caldwell 0, Justine Laney 0, Janessa Flynn 0, Emily Bohlen 0, Valery Vangen 0. Totals 14-49 (5-21) 11-14 44.
PRAIRIE (23-1) — Cori Woodward 19, Heather Corral 6, Kelsey Asplund 3, Megan Lindsley 17, Jackie Lanz 11, Andrea Smith 3, Nicole Goecke 0, Lindsay Asplund 0. Totals 18-48 (6-22) 17-27 59.
Wilson 6 3 5 30—44
Prairie 7 8 14 30—59