Girls basketball: Prairie gets out-Prairied in regional loss to Bishop Blanchet

Braves give Falcons dose of own medicine

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter



LONGVIEW -- The Prairie girls basketball team got a feel for what it's like to face the Prairie girls basketball team.

Bishop Blanchet of Seattle put on a defensive display -- especially in the first half -- that frustrated the Falcons most of the night Saturday, and Prairie's season came to an end.

Caitlyn Dixon made four 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, leading the Braves to a 57-49 victory in a Class 3A regional contest at Mark Morris High School. Bishop Blanchet will advance to the Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

Prairie is done after a 21-4 season.

"I'm going to cry," said Prairie senior Nicole Goecke, who scored 15 points in her final basketball game. "It's been one of the best experiences I've ever had. You can't find a school with as much passion as these girls have for basketball."

The Falcons just could not overcome a slow start, scoring 17 points in the first half against an aggressive defense that looked familiar.

"That's usually us," Goecke said. "For the tables to be flipped was really weird.

"But great basketball teams will adjust to that. We're young. Next year, they're going to do some great things."

Goecke, in fact, is the lone senior in the main rotation. Next year is promising, but it still hurts to lose this year.

Prairie coach Brett Johnson said he got too emotional to say a lot to his team after the game.

"I just told them I was proud of them for fighting all the way to the end," he said.

The Falcons cut a 17-point third-quarter deficit to four points two times in the fourth quarter.

This was a matchup of two quality teams. Bishop Blanchet, ranked in the top five all year, lost early in its district tournament and ended up playing another top-five team in the regionals.

"It's not fair to do that," Bishop Blanchet coach Bryan Willison said. "They're sending teams home that shouldn't be going home. It's not fair to Prairie. They're a very, very good team."

The Braves were better on this night, though, almost from start to finish.

The Falcons led 3-0 on Lindsay Asplund's 3-pointer to open the scoring, but the Braves tied it, then took a 5-3 lead with four minutes in the quarter. And that was that. There were no more lead changes in the game.

The Braves used a 13-0 run at the end of the second quarter and start of the third to make it 32-17.

The Prairie deficit grew to 17 later in the third before the Falcons got their defense going, trying to start a rally of their own.

"In the beginning, you could tell our girls were tentative. They settled down and battled back, though," Johnson said.

Prairie freshman Josie Tangeman hit a 3-pointer to give the Falcons some life, and the Falcons went into the fourth trailing by 11.

Tangemen connected on another bomb to start the fourth quarter and a Goecke basket made it a six-point game. Prairie would turn it over twice and miss a shot on its next three possessions, though.

Still, the Falcons wouldn't go away. Goecke made two free throws to make it a four-point game at 43-39 with 3:15 to play. Cherita Daugherty's basket with 2:10 made it 45-41.

But the Falcons were not able to make it a one-possession game.

Daugherty, who missed time in the second half after taking a hit to the head, scored 16 points to lead the Falcons. Lindsay Asplund added seven points and also had nine rebounds.


BISHOP BLANCHET -- Micah Lussier 6, Caitlyn Dixon 19, Lily DiPietro 11, Taylor Chambers 8, Jadyn Bush 9, Lee Erickson 0, Bella Kemp 4. Totals: 16-41 (8-23) 17-28 57.

PRAIRIE -- Lindsay Asplund 7, Josie Tangeman 6, Grace Prom 0, Jamie Phares 0, Nicole Goecke 15, Emily Peters 1, Cherita Daugherty 16, Natalie Whitesel 4. Totals: 18-52 (5-15) 8-14 49

B. Blanchet 14 15 12 16--57

Prairie 8 9 13 19--49