BRUSH PRAIRIE — High school basketball is back, and it’s been a nearly 14-month wait for the Prairie boys basketball team.
“It feels amazing,” junior Hayden Rose said. “We’ve waited for over a year now. This is what we’ve all been working for throughout the offseason. And it feels great to finally get the opportunity to show our work.”
For the Falcons’ head coach, the wait was even longer.
Tuesday’s season opener against Heritage was the first game on the bench for Kyle Brooks since December 2019 when a health scare that put him in the hospital for several weeks.
The Falcons treated their coach to a 74-61 win over the Timberwolves.
“I think the biggest thing for me is realizing how much I missed being around these guys,” Brooks said. “Again, just being at Prairie, starting a game, getting a home win, it’s just a really good feeling. Riding over today, I was thinking ‘How is this going to feel? It’s been a long time.’ ”
The Falcons stumbled a bit out of the gate. Maybe that was because one of the best players, junior Reece Walling, was still shaking off the dirt from playing baseball earlier on Tuesday.
After going 1 for 2 for the Prairie baseball team at Heritage, Walling said he left the baseball game in the fifth inning with the Falcons up 6-2 and arrived at Prairie about an hour before tip-off.
“(The baseball team) was playing well at Heritage, so I thought I could get over here and support my team, get ready for my game,” Walling said.
Walling said he expects to have at least one day each week this season when he’ll have to pull the baseball-basketball doubleheader.
“I haven’t really been focusing (on basketball) because I’ve been focusing on baseball,” said Walling, who finished with 13 points. “But it just felt good to get out here, get up and down the court and get competition.”
Rose has a team-high 20 points, including 12 of the Falcons’ last 24 points as Prairie pulled away late.
“I feel like we started off slow,” Rose said. “Obviously, it was our first game, so first game jitters. But I think we picked it up in the second half and played better as a team.”
Marcus Diaz-Montes had 18 points and Vernon Onick added 16 for the Timberwolves, who got with 60-54 with five minutes to play before Rose led the final Prairie surge.
The new season brought a lot of changes, including wearing masks during game.
“It’s definitely a lot harder to breathe with the mask on, especially when they get wet and sweaty,” Walling said. “You’re just breathing in sweat, and it’s bad, just really hot.”
After such a long layoff, for the players and Prairie’s coach, Brooks said it didn’t take long to get the juices flowing again.
“The best part of it was that I thought it was going to feel different, but it wasn’t different,” Brooks said. “It was like a regular high school basketball game, other than the masks. But, hey, we’re being safe. This is good start for us. We’ve got a good supporting cast for us. We’ve just got to get the touches, and we’ll get better every game.”
PRAIRIE 74, HERITAGE 61
HERITAGE — Jayden Cardiel 5, Marcos Diaz-Montes 18, Jalen Hinton 0, Quincy Caston 6, Talus Sather 1, Devin Uppal 0, Vernon Onick 16, Lem Adams 6, Khalil Osborn 5, Quincy Gill 6. Totals 20 (11) 10-17 61.
PRAIRIE — Nick Baker 3, Julius Frazier 5, Michael Golovin 8, Kieran Sarkela 6, Cody Gardner 11, Reece Walling 13, Hunter Hawkins 6, Hayden Rose 20, Korey Terrell 2, Isaac Moroshan 0. 30 (7) 7-11 74.
Heritage 12 16 17 16—61
Prairie 12 25 19 18—74