BATTLE GROUND — The Prairie Falcons are known for their defense.
Still, what they did Saturday was special, even by their standards.
A three-point game at halftime, the Falcons held their opponent without a field goal for the first 13 minutes of the second half.
Oh, and they accomplished that feat at the state regional round, the Sweet 16 — an elimination game.
Cherita Daugherty scored 15 points, Grace Prom added 11, and the Prairie Falcons dispatched Mercer Island 57-41 at Battle Ground High School. The Falcons are headed to the Tacoma Dome for the Class 3A state girls basketball quarterfinals.
“That’s what everyone talks about. Everyone wants to make it to the dome,” Daugherty said. “The girls are really excited about it. I’m really excited about it. The coaches are really excited about it. It’s a really good feeling.
“Not good. It’s an amazing feeling.”
The Falcons did this with a suffocating defense against the Islanders. Anna Luce, a 6-foot-2 post, had scored nine points in the second quarter, pulling Mercer Island to within three points at the half.
That was the end of Mercer Island’s offense.
“We talked about putting pressure on their guards, to make it easier for us to get in front of her,” said senior Natalie Whitesel, who is used to playing oversized opponents. “Just go hard constantly. We know we’re going to be outsized. So we have to get in front of them and get steals.
“That’s what the coaches say. ‘Get in front. Get in front. Get in front.’ I guess it really helps.”
Daugherty took over on offense for the Falcons in that third quarter. She assisted on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jozie Tangeman and Macey Hsu to open the third quarter, then she scored six points as the Falcons won the period 14-3. Daugherty finished with her 15 points along with 10 rebounds and six assists.
“When we’re all energized, things go right for us,” Daugherty said. “We go off of each other. We’re all hyped. We all come out with a long of energy. That’s what did it for us.”
The Islanders went 0 for 12 from the floor and made three free throws in the third quarter.
The Islanders would not score a basket in the second half until just less than 3 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. By then, the Falcons were up by 20 and preparing for the dome.
The two teams opened with a fast pace, with Prairie taking a 20-12 lead after the first quarter. Prom scored all 11 of her points in the first half. Her 3-pointer at the end of the half gave the Falcons a three-point lead.
Then it was all Prairie in the second half.
Hsu hit two 3-pointers and finished with eight points. Whitesel and Mallory Williams each scored seven.
The only drama for the Falcons came late in the game when Daugherty, the reigning All-Region player of the year, went down hard after a foul. After the game, she said she hurt her right shoulder but expects to play Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“I’ll be fine, regardless,” she said.
Whitesel is thrilled with Prairie’s second consecutive berth to the dome.
“It means everything. It’s what you strive for all year,” she said. “And to do it senior year is a special feeling.”
PRAIRIE 57, MERCER ISLAND 41
MERCER ISLAND — Claire Mansfield 4, Kailee Yan 4, Jessica Blakeslee 6, Taylor Krause 20, Anna Luce 17, Jessie Stenberg 0, Macy Mounger 0, Josie Blakeslee 0. Totals 13 (3) 12-18 41.
PRAIRIE — Sarina Martinez 1, Deja Gobert 2, Cassidy Gardner 0, Jozie Tangeman 5, Mallory Williams 7, Grace Prom 11, Malaika Quigley 1, Macey Hsu 8, Cherita Daugherty 15, Natalie Whitesel 7, Lauren Vreeken 0. Totals 20 (7) 10-16 57
Mercer Island 12 14 3 12–41
Prairie 20 9 14 14–57