All of the talk entering the 3A Greater St. Helens League girls basketball season focused on whether this was finally the year someone would dethrone Prairie, the 22-time consecutive league champions. If any team was to do it, the theory was, it would be an extremely talented Hudson’s Bay squad.
On Tuesday, Prairie put that talk to rest for awhile with a convincing 57-44 road victory over the Eagles.
“It’s really exciting,” senior guard Meri Dunford said. “Being able to come into the locker room and celebrate together feels really good. It sets us up in the perfect spot for the second half of league.”
Dunford scored 13 of her game-high 17 points in the second half, Claire Heitschmidt added 15 points and Dayna Vera finished with 11.
Defensively, the Falcons limited the area’s leading scorer, Jaydia Martin, to just 13 points. She also had 10 rebounds and three assists. Kamelai Powell added 15.
The victory extended Prairie’s league win streak to 213 games. The Falcons last league defeat came to Battle Ground on Jan. 31, 2000.
“They were just so calm and didn’t get rattled,” Prairie coach Hala Corral said. “I’m just proud of the way they played and their composure.”
While Prairie (8-6, 5-0) doesn’t boast the top-end talent as in past years, the Falcons are flourishing in their roles and willing to let a hot hand take over.
Heitschmidt, who also added nine rebounds, scored seven points in the first quarter. Vera had eight points and two steals in the second quarter and sealed the victory with a deep 3-pointer as the shot clock expired late in the fourth quarter. Dunford was the aggressor late, scoring nine points in a 13-8 run that broke a tie game and extended it to 43-36 early in the final period.
Dunford also added five steals. Alli Corral finished with six assists.
“It’s really nice to be able to play as a team,” senior guard Dayna Vera said. “If someone is on, we give them the ball and let them do what they can do.”
For Bay (13-3, 4-1), Tuesday night was one filled with hope as the Eagles returned two key assets, although both played in limited capacity. Star guard Aniyah Hampton scored nine points and had four assists in her first game of the season after recovering from an Achilles tear. Freshman Mahaila Harrison returned from a broken hand to a resounding applause from a strong Bay contingent.
The teams meet again on Feb. 5 at Prairie.
PRAIRIE 57, HUDSON’S BAY 44
Prairie — Dayna Vera 11, Meri Dunford 17, Alli Corral 8, Claire Heitschmidt 16, Hannah Clouse 0, Kylie Diaz 5. Totals 21-58 (4-21) 11-13 57.
Hudson’s Bay — Jaydia Martin 13, Ashley Rodriguez 0, Devon Johnson-Brown 2, Paytin Ballard 5, Mahaila Harrison 0, Aniyah Hampton 9, Kamelai Powell 15, Stacia Mikaele 0. Totals 17-49 (2-15) 8-9 44.
Prairie 12 10 19 16—57
H. Bay 12 9 15 8—44