TACOMA — Survive and advance.
That’s what the Prairie Falcons did Thursday in the opening round of the Class 3A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Jackie Lanz scored 15 points, leading four Falcons in double figures, and Heather Corral did a lot of everything as the Falcons rallied in the second half for a 64-50 victory over Lakeside of Seattle.
Prairie (25-1) will face University in the championship semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday.
“It’s always a little scary going into halftime and being down,” Corral acknowledged.
Then again, they had some things going for them, according to coach Al Aldridge.
“It might have been the ugliest half of basketball we played all year and we were only down four,” Aldridge said. “It could have been worse. It was time to get going.”
Lakeside (20-8) had the lead up to nine in the first half and led 31-27 at halftime.
“We all played really strong in the second half,” said Lanz, who had five rebounds to go with her points. “We weren’t going to roll over. We wanted to win. We deserved it.”
The Falcons held the Lions to 19 second-half points.
“At halftime we had to make some adjustments, and we did,” Lanz said.
Corral switched on defense to take Lakeside’s Christina Cheledinas and proceeded to shut her down. Cheledinas scored 13 first-half points and finished the game with 13 points. Kaylee Best led the Lions with 14 points — but she had to work for it, going 6 of 18 from the floor.
Corral had seven assists and five steals, including a couple of steals in a third-quarter spurt that took the Falcons from down five to up four going into the final period.
“All the starters, in the third quarter, we got together. It’s time. If we’re going to go for it, we gotta go for it now,” Corral said.
Prairie trailed 36-31 with just less than six minutes remaining, then outscored the Lions 14-5 to close out the period.
“Having that clock slowly tick down made me throw myself out there to see what would happen,” Corral said.
All good things happened for Prairie from that moment. Sophomore Nicole Goecke beat the third-quarter horn with a 3-pointer to make it 45-41.
Senior Kelsey Asplund, a post in a guard’s body, kept the momentum going with an inside shot to start the fourth quarter. Later, she got another basket to push Prairie’s lead to double digits for the first time, 53-43 with 4:50 left in the game.
“It’s tough being an undersized post,” said the 5-10 Asplund. “I’m giving three or four inches every game. Their passing, which leads me to the basket, helps a lot.”
“She plays a lot bigger than she is,” Corral said.
The Lions had no answer to Prairie’s intensity in the final stretch.
“Lakeside was really tired in the fourth quarter,” Aldridge said. “They were gassed.”
For three quarters, though, the Lions gave the Falcons all they could handle.
“Give some credit to Lakeside,” Aldridge said. “They’re a good team. They had a great game plan.”
Lanz sealed the victory with a 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining, giving the Falcons a 58-45 lead.
Cori Woodward was 6 for 6 from the line and had 12 points. Megan Lindsley added 10 points in the balanced attack.
The second-half performance was almost enough for the Falcons to forget about the first half, when Lakeside used a 15-2 run to take a lead that would eventually grow to nine.
“It’s a win. It was ugly, but it’s a win,” Aldridge said. “And we’ll take it. It’s nice to survive this and live another day.”
PRAIRIE 64, LAKESIDE 50 PRAIRIE (25-1) — Jackie Lanz 15, Cori Woodward 12, Heather Corral 12, Megan Lindsley 10, Nicole Goecke 7, Kelsey Asplund 6, Andrea Smith 2, Lindsay Asplund 0, Mary Banks 0, Emily Peters 0, Aleah Waltz 0. Totals 22-52 (7-23) 13-14 64. LAKESIDE (20-8) — Kaylee Best 14, Christina Cheledinas 13, Danielle Estell 11, Zoe Walker 6, Avalon Igawa 4, Darby Mason 2, Alena Kantor 0, Makayla DeJong 0, Grace Noah 0, Ishani Ummat 0. Totals 20-50 (4-15) 6-9 50. Prairie 14 13 18 19—64Lakeside 15 16 10 9—50