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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Every little thing gets Prairie boys momentous win over Kelso, 53-46

Falcons deny Hilanders chance at clinching 3A GSHL

By Andy Buhler, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: January 22, 2019, 10:50pm

BRUSH PRAIRIE — All Kyle Brooks had to tell his team before Tuesday’s game were two facts.

Kelso had never before clinched a league title in Prairie’s gym, nor had it ever swept Prairie, either.

“We were kind of hot before the game, we were like, ‘they are not winning a league title on our floor,’ ” Zeke Dixson said.

That was more than enough motivation for the Prairie boys basketball team, as they beat the Hilanders 53-46 — or as Dixson said, “got the dub” — to hand them their first 3A Greater St. Helens League loss, deny Kelso a chance to clinch at least a share of the league title and extend their own win streak to seven.

“We did every little thing. That got us the win,” Dixson said.

The Falcons feel they’ve come a long way since the Dec. 20 loss at Kelso, in which they were leading late.

The loss marked an 0-2 start for defending league champion Prairie.

“A lot of our hopes were down,” Dixson said. “We knew we had to come back and beat them the second time through.”

And they did just that.

Dixson scored a team-high 16 points and three Prairie players logged double digits scoring — Aidan Fraly had 12 points (all in the first half) and Kam Osborn added 10.

Kelso’s Shaw Anderson finished with 19 points — the only Kelso player to score in double figures.

While Osborn has led the Falcons many times throughout the seasons, often times bailed them out of offensive slumps, and served as the guy who can simply just go get a bucket when needed, Prairie saw other players step up.

Fraly’s 12 first half points helped the Falcons erase Kelso’s 10-point lead in the first half. He hit his second of two 3-pointers to tie the game at 22-22 late in the second quarter.

“To win this time of year you have to have other guys step up and score,” Brooks said.

Dixson did most of his scoring in the second half, to which he credited sagging defenders trying to account for Osborn, the third leading scorer in Southwest Washington (20 points per game).

When Osborn got the ball, Dixson’s defender would cheat over to help on him.

“I’d pass it to Kam, Kam would get trapped, pass back and I’d have a huge gap,” Dixson said. “They were playing so far off me, that it was like, dude, if you’re going to play that far off me, I’m just going to go, take this gap and make them sorry for playing that far off me.”

In the second half, Prairie was anchored by an undersized defense that played bigger than a team with just one rotation player above 6-foot-2. Kelso’s 46 points was its lowest output in league play — second-lowest of the season.

But what stands out most to Brooks as he reflects on his team’s seven-game win streak (the Falcons are undefeated in 2019) is the team’s togetherness. Such chemistry was missing early in the season, but found, Brooks said, during the team’s trip to Phoenix for their late-December holiday tournament.

Fraly described a trip filled with bonding during team dinners, travel and riding electric scooters as pivotal to developing team chemistry.

“Started having confidence in each other, had a good time,” Fraly said. “It put a smile on our faces.”

Added Dixson: “Everyone got so much closer as a team and we won games down there and it shows. We got back down here and our bench is into it, everyone is into it.”

Now Prairie (10-7, 5-2) pulls within a game of Kelso in the league title race. To win a share, Kelso must lose at least one of its final three regular season games.

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Dixson, for one, is confident in the Falcons’ momentum.

“Now it’s up to us to win these last couple games and it’s on Kelso’s back,” Dixson said. “They should feel all the pressure in the world right now and we’re feeling pretty good, so we’ve got to take it one game at a time and keep on winning.”

KELSO — Josh Webb 1, Riley Noah 8, Jayden Hardeman 8, Dillon Davis 2, Shaw Anderson 19, Trey Hartley 0, Drew Tack 0, Wyatt Brown 5. 17 (4) 8-14 46.
PRAIRIE —Aidan Fraly 12, Kam Osborn 10, A.J. Dixon 8, Zeke Dixson 16, Bronson King 0, Mark Frazier 2, Thomas Hapgood 5, Brady Gagnon 0. 18 (3) 14-17 46.
Kelso 13 13 10 10 — 46
Prairie 8 17 18 10 —53

Columbian Staff Writer