PUYALLUP — The Prairie Falcons never take anything for granted.
Just might be one of the reasons one can always count on them to make it to the state girls basketball tournament.
“Even if people expect us to make it, it’s still an accomplishment,” senior Kelsey Asplund said moments after Prairie (24-1) clinched its 15th consecutive trip to state.
Which is why the team did celebrate a bit, even if this might have been the easiest of games to get to state.
Jackie Lanz had 18 points and nine rebounds, Megan Lindsley had 16 points, and all the starters took a seat in the fourth quarter of their Class 3A regional matchup against Juanita of Kirkland.
Then the reserves outscored the Rebels (21-6) in the final period, the finishing touches of a 65-28 victory at Rogers High School.
“Every one wants to get there, to be one of those teams that is going to state,” senior Heather Corral said. “To get to go with these girls is awesome. Everyone has stepped up a ton.”
The Class 3A tournament begins Thursday in Tacoma. The draw for the bracket and game times will take place Sunday.
Lanz was 5 of 10 from the floor and made three 3-pointers. Lindsley was 6 of 11, also with three 3-pointers. Cori Woodward had eight points, four assists, and three steals. Asplund added six points, and Corral had three assists and three steals.
In all, 11 Falcons scored and all 12 had some positive numbers on the stat sheet.
“I know the younger players were really enjoying playing at the end,” said Lanz, a junior. “It was really exciting to see them be so successful.”
The Falcons also learned that Juanita’s best player, Kate Cryderman, would miss the game. She injured her ankle in practice this week.
Prairie coach Al Aldridge reminded his players how focused they were last year when Corral went down with a knee injury about this time. The Falcons went on to win four in a row, including a bi-district title, and made it to the state championship game.
“She’s their emotional leader,” Aldridge said of Cryderman. “They were on a mission to play for Kate. Beware of a wounded animal. Sometimes those are the most scary.”
Which is why he was so pleased with the first quarter, then the first half. Prairie never let the Rebels think they had a chance.
“Al told us to keep up the intensity,” Lanz said.
The Falcons went on a 14-0 run to take a 17-4 advantage.
Lindsley and Lanz each had 11 points at the half, with Prairie taking a 41-12 lead. Lanz had a 3-pointer and then picked up the rare four-point play with a 3-ball-plus-the-foul-shot in the third quarter.
In the second half, the Rebels decided to have some fun, knowing their season was about to end. They hardly ran any offense, just throwing up 3-pointers and hoping to get some to fall. It led to a lot of offensive rebounds and a lot more misses. Juanita finished 11 of 66 from the floor, 2 of 32 from 3-point range.
The Prairie reserves pushed the lead to 39 at one point, being cheered on by the starters every second of the way.
“We do well every year, but when we (get to state), it’s still special,” Lanz said. “It’s exciting. It’s heart-pumping. It’s mind-boggling.”
It’s Prairie at state.
PRAIRIE 65, JUANITA 28
JUANITA (21-6) — Winnie Levitt 3, Mikayla Jones 8, Bre Carter 2, Molly Steck 0, Molly Grager 5, Tayler Lloyd 2, Mary Carter 1, McKenzie Waltar 2, Shannon Brink 2, Emily Wright 0, Carla Marigmen 3. Totals 11-66 (2-32) 4-10 28.
PRAIRIE (24-1) — Cori Woodward 8, Heather Corral 3, Kelsey Asplund 6, Megan Lindsley 16, Jackie Lanz 18, Andrea Smith 4, Nicole Goecke 3, Emily Peters 0, Lindsay Asplund 2, Rachel Deaton 4, Aleah Walz 1. Totals 23-55 (6-23) 13-24 65.
Juanita 6 6 7 9–28
Prairie 21 20 11 13–65