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Prairie girls push pace in win over Kelso

Falcons use 30-5 first-half run to remain unbeaten in 3A GSHL run

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
9 Photos
Kelso's Alexis Kleven (4) defends Prairie's Meri Dunford (3) during Tuesday night's game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 28, 2020.
Kelso's Alexis Kleven (4) defends Prairie's Meri Dunford (3) during Tuesday night's game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 28, 2020. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

BRUSH PRAIRIE — Just like that, a double-digit deficit out of the gate turned into a 30-point route for Prairie High’s girls basketball team. 

In the end, a 68-38 home victory over second-place Kelso on Tuesday means the Falcons are two wins away from cliching another league title. 

Prairie (10-7 overall, 7-0 3A GSHL) has a two-game lead on second-place Hudson’s Bay with three regular-season games remaining. Kelso (10-7, 4-3) drops to third place. 

Meri Dunford poured in a game-high 26 points and had eight rebounds, Claire Heitschmidt had a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds, and also added five assists, and Dayna Vera added 10. 

Prairie has had a number of impressive victories this season, including a 41-36 win over 4A Snohomish to earn its first win of the year by shutting out the Panthers in the final quarter, and last week’s win over Hudson’s Bay, 57-44.

11 Photos
Kelso's Alexis Kleven (4) defends Prairie's Meri Dunford (3) during Tuesday night's game at Prairie High School in Vancouver on Jan. 28, 2020.
Gallery: Prairie vs. Kelso Basketball Photo Gallery

What makes Tuesday so special — making it a regular-season sweep of Kelso — isn’t how Prairie started, but rather, how it finished. 

“The first time we played them, we didn’t play our best game,” Heitschmidt said. 

Prairie won the first go-around, 44-29, in Kelso and Tuesday, the game started out all Hilanders. 

Kelso used a full-court trap to earn three steals to spark a 12-2 lead. Natalie Fraley, Kelso’s leading scorer on the season, had eight points and two steals in the opening four minutes. 

After that, Prairie went on a run and never trailed. It used a 13-0 run in the first quarter and finished the first half on 30-5 run. Kelso didn’t score in the second quarter until the 1:53 mark. 

“We started to play as a team,” said Vera, “and not individually. We got our jitters out in the first quarter and started playing as a team. It was really nice.”

Prairie had 13 assists on its 22 field goals, and Vera, known for her defense, found her groove offensively. She scored eight in the third quarter, including Prairie’s final field goal on a corner 3 that made the lead 49-32. Kelso was held to six points the final eight minutes. 

Fraley’s 14 points paced Kelso. 

PRAIRIE 68, KELSO 38

Kelso — Alexis Kleven 3, Cooper Joy 4, Erin Tack 0, Evermore Kaiser 10, Mati Ohlson 1, Natalie Fraley 14, Madison Harkins 2, KK Perez 2. Totals 14 (1) 9-15 38

Prairie — Dayna Vera 10, Meri Dunford 26, Claire Heitschmidt 19, Allison Corral 8, Kylie Diaz 2, Kaitlyn Caughey 0, Hannah Clouse 2. Totals 22 (7) 17-22 68

Kelso 14 3 15 6 – 38

Prairie 15 17 19 17 – 68

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