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Boys basketball: Prairie finally runs past Kelso

Decisive 25-2 run comes after sluggish start for Falcons

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
Kelso's Rees Hall (4) and Prairie's Mark Frazier (11) fight for the ball during Friday night's game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 10, 2020. Prairie won 44-32. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian)
Kelso's Rees Hall (4) and Prairie's Mark Frazier (11) fight for the ball during Friday night's game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 10, 2020. Prairie won 44-32. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

BRUSH PRAIRIE — It’s been a number of years since the Prairie’s boys basketball coaching staff used an acronym of GBU32 — good, bad, ugly 32 minutes of basketball.

It came up, though, during Prairie’s 44-32 home victory Friday over Kelso.

“That was all three of those things tonight,” Falcons assistant coach Jimmy Tuominen said after the game.

The good news there is once the ugliness ended for both teams — a sloppy first half featuring a high number of turnovers, poor shooting and a combined 19 points for Prairie and Kelso through the game’s opening 14 minutes — the Falcons finally found their spark.

And a win to even its 3A Greater St. Helens League record to 1-1.

The Prairie-Kelso rivalry has heated up in recent years, especially after going 2-1 against each other last season. The final game was for the 3A bi-district title in Puyallup, in which the Falcons earned their first bi-district title under longtime head coach Kyle Brooks.

Friday, though, was Tuominen’s third game serving as Prairie’s interim coach after Brooks became hospitalized last week with complications from pneumonia, athletic director Jason Castro said. There’s currently no timetable for Brooks’ return.

12 Photos
KelsoÕs Rees Hall (4) and PrairieÕs Mark Frazier (11) fight for the ball during Friday nightÕs game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 10, 2020. Prairie won 44-32. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian)
Prairie vs. Kelso Basketball Photo Gallery

Tuominen is in his 13th season on Brooks’ staff, and what the players admire most about the veteran assistant is Tuominen’s positive attitude.

“Even if we’re playing ugly,” sophomore Reece Walling said, “he’s still positive with us through the first half.”

Oh, that first half.

Kelso held a slim 16-13 halftime advantage in a game that was 11-8 Prairie inside 2 minutes left in the second quarter. The Hilanders limited Prairie’s ability to drive the lane much of the night, forcing the Falcons to outside shooting. The positive there is once Prairie began hitting from the outside, that’s when the lead opened up.

Cue the third quarter.

After Kelso began the quarter with five quick points, it had a scoring drought last 10-plus minutes. That’s when Prairie (6-6, 1-1) went off.

It hit four 3-pointers as part of a 25-2 stretch to go from a 21-13 deficit to a 36-23 lead by the 5:48 mark of the fourth quarter. Brady Gagnon (10 points) hit two crucial 3-pointers and Walling, a 6-foot-5 forward, flashed his range that helped Prairie finds its groove.

It wasn’t until Dillon Davis’ 3-pointer with 5:02 left in the game that Kelso snapped its scoring drought.

Once the Falcons began moving the ball, setting screens and finding their open teammates, “it really opened things up for everyone,” said Walling, who finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

Added Gagnon: “Slowing it down and working on our sets helped us.”

Aidan Fraley led Prairie with 13 points. Josh Webb paced Kelso (6-6, 1-1) with 14.

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