The Heritage girls basketball team made history Thursday night, and the Timberwolves did it together.
Yes, senior Katie Peneueta led the way with 23 points, 23 rebounds and seven blocked shots. But contributions from around the court contributed to the Timberwolves’ first win over Prairie in school history with a 53-42 victory in a 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League game at Heritage.
“We have never beaten Prairie in the history of Heritage,” Peneueta said. “To come out here and play, a lot of us were saying we were playing for Heritage.”
Then then senior had to stop to take a breath filled with emotion.
“I just can’t explain how proud I am of every single of them,” she said of her teammates. “Every single of one of them came out strong. They knew what they needed to do. They were even asking our coaches what more they could do at every single timeout.”
Heritage fell to Prairie 34-30 on April 20, so the Timberwolves knew they could play with the Falcons.
But on Thursday, they would have to do it without sophomore Keanna Salavea, the team’s second leading scorer.
“I’ve been preaching energy, intensity and effort the entire season,” Heritage coach Jacob Kaler said. “And this was a game that we needed to elevate that even more, being down a starter. We couldn’t ever take our foot off the gas pedal.”
And the Timberwolves did not, even with only seven players suited up for the game. Heritage led almost the entire game — trailing only once at 11-10 in the first quarter.
The Timberwolves pushed a 26-20 halftime lead to 42-31 early in the fourth quarter.
But the Falcons fought back to within 44-40 on a Jordan Peterson basket with about three minutes to play.
That’s when the Timberwolves turned to their senior leader.
“That’s what I said in one of our last timeouts,” Kaler said. “ ‘Hey we have got to go back to our bread and butter. We have got to find Katie in the right spots. We have to be patient, run our offense and trust her.’ And she did a tremendous job.”
Peneueta hit 13 of 14 free throws, including 8 of 8 in the fourth quarter.
Four free throws by Peneueta put Heritage up 48-40, then Mariah Bibens delivered the dagger with a 3-pointer with 1:44 to go.
Peneueta gave special credit to junior point guard Alex Rosenbaum, who had eight points and five rebounds.
“I’ve talked to her so much about how to stay composed, how to take on that big role of being the point guard, especially against a pressure team like Prairie,” Peneueta said. “And she executed it so well.”
Kaler also commended the job of senior Maliyah Thompson, who had nine points, 11 rebounds and drew the assignment of guarding Prairie’s Central Washington-bound senior, Claire Heitschmidt.
“Claire is a talented player, and Maliyah is by far our best defender,” Kaler said. “I wanted her to make Claire’s game as hard as it can be. And Maliyah did a great job of that.”
Heitschmidt finished with 16 points, and Peterson added 10 for the Falcons, who suffered their first league loss to a team in the same classification since Jan. 31, 2000 — a stretch of 222 regular-season league games. Prairie had previously dropped three league games this season to 4A foes in the 4A/3A GSHL.
It’s the type of win that leaves the Timberwolves imagining about what more they can do this season.
“Being able to beat Prairie without Keanna shows how much potential we could have with her,” Peneueta said. “Imagine how strong we can be when we have a whole bench, when we have every single piece we need. We can really make a statement this year that Heritage is no longer that school that is an easy win. We’re coming out with a fight every single game, and we’re making the most of our time despite what a weird year it’s been.”
HERITAGE 53, PRAIRIE 42
PRAIRIE – Kaitly Caughey 4, Lauren Sautter 0, Claire Heitschmidt 16, Jordan Peterson 10, Maddie Clouse 4, Joely Renk 0, Hannah Clouse 5, Taylor Judah 3, Claire Smith 0. Totals 15 (2) 10-16 42
HERITAGE – Alex Rosenbaum 8, Maliyah Thompson 9, Victoria Males 3, Katie Peneueta 23, Cammy Wolf 2 , Mariah Bibens 8, Paige Kirby 0, Totals 14 (5) 20-25 53
Prairie 11 9 11 11—42
Heritage 13 13 14 13-53
JV – Prairie 39-5