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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
March 5, 2024

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Prairie girls basketball off to fresh start

New coach brings more optimism to tradition power

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published:

The first half hour of practice was a combination of running and ball-handling drills, one after another.

Even with a new coach, this is still Prairie girls basketball.

Fundamentals will be stressed.

Conditioning will be mandatory.

The players understand. In fact, they demand it of themselves.

“You just got to set the tone. It’s got to be intense,” senior Jozie Tangeman said of the first day of practice. “People have got to know we’re coming back strong. We can’t take any day for granted, really.”

It was the first day of high school basketball practice around the state. That is special anywhere.

Prairie has a program like no other, though. The Falcons have reached the state round of 16 for 19 consecutive seasons.

To make it 20 in a row, the Falcons will have to get there with another new coach. Hala Corral has taken over the program — the third new coach in the past five seasons. She had an evening practice Monday but only because she could not schedule one before school.

“I’ve watched them play all fall. To actually be out here coaching and teaching these young ladies … I did not sleep last night, I was so excited,” Corral said. “I wish I could have started at 6 in the morning.”

Before practice, she asked her players if they noticed anything when looking at the yearly results posted for Prairie basketball. She asked if anything was missing from the past four years.

“State championship,” was the reply.

True, but not only that, the Falcons have not earned a trophy at state the past four seasons. Making it to state is one thing, but Corral said Prairie is about taking home a trophy, too.

“Yeah, there’s pressure,” she said about this job. “I put most of the pressure on me. I want these seniors to not just get to the Sweet 16, but to actually place at state.”

The Falcons have to be optimistic, too. Grace Prom, a co-player of the year from the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League, returns. As does first-team, all-leaguer Tangeman. The Falcons also have proven newcomer to the program. Brooke Walling, who was first-team, all-league in the 2A GSHL with Mark Morris as a freshman last season, has moved to Prairie.

Tangeman said she is looking forward to playing for Corral.

“It’s just going to be different. A new style,” Tangeman said. “I know it’s going to be intense and we’re going to have fun.”

Corral added that it will not be all about winning under her leadership. Winning is important, but, she added, there are more important things.

“Whether I’m coaching a fifth-grade team or a high school team, my goal is to make these ladies better people and better basketball players,” she said.

That starts with fundamentals, too.

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter