Young veterans lead Prairie girls basketball team past Camas

Falcons are 2-0 after 55-41 win

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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Two games in, Hala Corral already has plenty of reasons to smile.

Her Prairie girls basketball team isn’t just 2-0 with victories over 2A Tumwater and 4A Camas, the latter an impressive 55-41 home win Wednesday over the Papermakers. But two games in, she’s calling her team, featuring zero seniors, full of season veterans.

“I love what we’re doing,” the second-year coach said. “We’re so much further ahead than we were last year.

What’s not to love, especially when the Falcons hit 10 3-pointers from six different players.

Brooke Walling led all scorers with 21 points and Cassidy Gardner added 10 points and six assists. Walling’s five straight points to open the second quarter gave Prairie its lead for good at 13-10 just 2 minutes into the eight-minute period.

Prairie started 2 of 8 in the first quarter before finding its outside shooting touch. Its biggest spark was 5-foot-5 guard Sydney Weber (nine points), who hit her first three 3-point attempts off the bench to give Prairie its first double-digit lead at 25-16 with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half.

Corral has coached Weber since the junior was in first grade, and was proud to see her hit clutch shots after a knee injury from soccer cost her the sophomore basketball season.

“She’s the secret weapon because people don’t know about her,” Corral said. “They will now.”

Walling, who had 24 points in Monday’s season-opening win over Tumwater, said having the reigning 4A and 3A Greater St. Helens League champions face off only makes each other better. The junior called Wednesday’s nonleague win an important one for the Falcons, and added a team as talented as the Papermakers helps bring out the best in Prairie moving forward.

“Being able to compete with them proves a lot to us we can do this and it gives us a lot of confidence,” she said.

Camas (1-2) still is adjusting to play without senior post Madison Freemon. The 6-foot-2 Cal State Fullerton commit is out for the season after tearing her ACL a week before the team’s season opener.

With Freemon out, that leaves Courtney Clemmer as the team’s other 6-2 post. Clemmer had 14 points Wednesday, but 12 were in the first half when the Papermakers trailed 30-22 at the break. Her final bucket came with 1 minute left in the game.

Both teams struggled shooting in the third, but Camas went a chilly 2-for-12 and didn’t a field goal for the first 6:44 of the quarter.

Haley Hanson had six of her eight points after halftime, and Marinna Payne added seven for the Papermakers.