The Prairie Falcons are ready for the next challenge.
Another undefeated league season. Another district championship.
The next step is bi-district.
“We really have to cherish every possession,” senior Nicole Goecke said. “They’re going to be a lot of aggressive teams. We’ll have to learn to take it slow and play at our own speed.”
In Southwest Washington, the Falcons could play any style they wanted.
Friday night, they took care of Columbia River 53-24 in the Class 3A District 4 girls basketball championship game at Hudson’s Bay High School. Goecke made three 3-pointers and scored all 13 of her points in the first half. She also had seven steals.
Prairie will have a first-round bye, then play a second-round bi-district game at Hudson’s Bay High School on Wednesday.
It is the fourth consecutive district title for the Falcons.
“Every time, it’s been special for different reasons,” Goecke said. “This year, we’ve come a long way. We’re really small.”
And young, too. Goecke is the lone senior in the main rotation for the Falcons.
She wants to lead the Falcons to more than just the bi-district. The top five teams from bi-district go to regionals. Teams that win at regionals go to the Tacoma Dome.
“This is another step on our journey, hopefully, to the state tournament,” Goecke said.
First-year Prairie head coach Brett Johnson celebrated the district title, and appreciated watching his players cut down the nets.
“They seem a little more excited,” Johnson said. “They’re young. They appreciate it more.”
Still, even the senior leader joyfully grabbed her piece of the net.
“She’s always excited,” Johnson said of Goecke.
“She makes our defense go, and the girls follow that drive,” the coach said.
Prairie got 10 steals in the first quarter to jump out to an 11-point lead.
Goecke finished the half 5 of 7 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
“I didn’t want to underestimate River. I was very focused before the game,” she said. “I think that helped with my shot.”
Still, the Chieftains played tough for some time, getting to within seven points late in the first half. Prairie’s Natalie Whitesel scored, and then Grace Prom got a steal and beat the halftime horn with a lay-up to make it 26-15 at the break.
Columbia River went 0 for 11 from the floor in the third quarter, and the game was decided.
Still, Columbia River advances to the bi-district tournament, as well. The Chieftains will play North Thurston at 1 p.m. Monday at Clover Park High School in an opening-round, elimination game.
The Chieftains are 12-10, eight more wins than in 2013.
“It took the kids a while to learn how to win,” River coach Carl Click said, adding that getting a big rebound or playing team defense makes a big difference. “When you do the little things that they have, you go from four wins to 12.”
Marion Lilly and Megan Bloom each had six points for River.
Cherita Daugherty added 10 points for the Falcons. Lindsay Asplund and Prom finished with nine points.
PRAIRIE 54, COLUMBIA RIVER 24
COLUMBIA RIVER — Ana Delgadillo 2, Marion Lilly 6, Kate Kraft 0, Teaghan Cowles 5, Joey Fox 0, Jenna Joy 0, Holli Jo Chose 0, Megan Bloom 6, Ellie Walker 0, Morgan Anthony 3, Katie Anthony 2. Totals 8-33 (0-7) 8-17 24.
PRAIRIE — Lindsey Asplund 9, Grace Prom 9, Robin Cole 0, Jamie Phares 5, Nicole Goecke 13, Emily Peters 0, Cherita Daugherty 10, Malie Teriiapaia 0, Jose Tangeman 3, Jordan Adams 0, Natalie Whitesel 4, Casey Sorenson 0. Totals 19-46 (7-25) 8-10 53.
Columbia River 6 9 1 8–24
Prairie 17 9 9 18–53