TACOMA — The Prairie girls basketball team completed its mission Saturday night, picking up another state championship for the program, and its first with this class of talent.
A year after finishing second in the Class 3A state tournament, the Falcons rolled to this year’s title, taking down Franklin of Seattle 54-44 in the Tacoma Dome.
Heather Corral was named the tournament’s MVP. She had another all-around performance with some scoring, fancy passing and dominant defense to cap her high school career.
“All the hard work, all the sweat, all the yelling, all the tears. It’s all worth it,” said Corral, who missed the last two state tournaments with knee injuries.
Cori Woodward led four Falcons in double figures with 13 points.
“It’s amazing. I’m so happy. I am so happy and excited for my team,” Woodward said. “If feels so much better to be first than second. I don’t have words for this experience right now.”
Megan Lindsley added 11 and Jackie Lanz and Andrea Smith finished with 10 apiece.
This is Prairie’s sixth state championship, and first since 2003. The Falcons, who have made it to the state tournament the past 15 years, had lost in their last two finals appearances.
Now, Prairie (27-1) is back on top, winner of 27 in a row to conclude the 2011-12 season.
“I really believed it all year,” Prairie coach Al Aldridge said.
The result also gave Clark County two state championships in the dome Saturday. Skyview won the Class 4A title earlier in the evening.
The prime-time game belonged to Prairie.
Lanz said the Falcons never had any doubts.
“We came out with a confidence knowing we were going to win it,” Lanz said. “At halftime, we pretty much said this is our half. Let’s bury them. Our mentality was this is our championship. We want it, and we deserve it.”
Prairie took control of this defensive battle with an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take a 24-13 lead. The Falcons were never threatened the rest of the way in a physical game.
Corral had a rough shooting night, finishing with six points. But she made her presence known all over the court with six steals and two blocked shots. She also had seven assists. Three times she got a steal on the press, then found open teammates for layups — the steal/assist combo.
“Ever see a kid dominant a game like she did with just one basket?” Aldridge asked.
Woodward scored nine of her points in the second half.
Smith came off the bench to provide a spark with her 10 points. She was 4 for 4 at the line, as well.
“I wasn’t scared,” Smith said. “I was scared last year. This year I kept my composure. I made sure I did my best. This is my senior year. I wanted to finish strong.”
Kelsey Asplund, another senior, reflected on what it took for the Falcons to reach the top.
“I feel so relieved. After four years, every single day in the gym, working together. It’s just feels so good to finally have what we’ve been working for,” she said.
Prairie struggled against the physical style of Franklin for a quarter or so. The Quakers tied the game at 13 before the Falcons got on a roll. Smith and Woodward each had four points in the 11-0 run and Corral capped it with a 3-pointer.
The Falcons led by 10 at the half and nine going into the fourth quarter. But again, the Quakers never appeared to be within striking distance against Prairie’s defense. Franklin shot 28 percent from the floor.
“Coach told us it was going to be a physical game. He wanted us to be prepared,” said Lanz, who was voted to the all-tournament team along with Corral. “When our shots weren’t falling for us, he told us to make it up on the other end of the floor.”
The Falcons pushed the lead to 17 before settling for the 10-point victory.
That gave Aldridge six state titles in his career.
“The big thing was getting off that nine-year hiatus,” he said. “Knowing we won it, finally, instead of just being close.”
PRAIRIE 54, FRANKLIN 44
FRANKLIN — Janee Lewis 2, Kayla Ivy 0, Mariah Rogers 3, Jadea Brundidge 15, Raven Burleson 0, Qiara Norwood 2, Enjunay Jones-Lee 4, Patrice Toston 10, Taneka Silas 0, Jazmin Horne 8. Totals 15-53 (2-14) 12-18 44.
PRAIRIE — Lindsay Asplund 1, Cori Woodward 13, Heather Corral 6, Kelsey Asplund 3, Mary Banks 0, Nicole Goecke 0, Emily Peters 0, Megan Lindsley 11, Rachel Deaton 0, Andrea Smith 10, Aleah Walz 0, Jackie Lanz 10. Totals 16-49 (3-15) 19-30 54.
Franklin 9 8 11 16—44
Prairie 13 14 10 17—54
MVP: Heather Corral, Prairie
Jadea Brundidge, Franklin; Myzhanique Ladd, Cleveland; Jackie Lanz, Prairie; Brianne Lasconia, Shorecrest
Hallie Gennett, University; Qiara Norwood, Franklin; MaryAnn Santucci, Seattle Prep; Khadidja Toure, Kamiakin; Kayleigh Valley, University.