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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Feb. 20, 2024

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Behind Bailey Kousonsavath’s 34 points, Prairie boys beat Heritage to grab first 3A GSHL win

Falcons win second game of the season, Timberwolves dealt their first loss

By , Columbian staff writer
7 Photos
Prairie’s Bailey Kousonsavath shoots in between Heritage defenders Quincy Gill, left, and Jarius Brown, right, during a 3A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, at Prairie High School.
Prairie’s Bailey Kousonsavath shoots in between Heritage defenders Quincy Gill, left, and Jarius Brown, right, during a 3A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, at Prairie High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When it comes to knocking down big shots in the clutch, Prairie senior Bailey Kousonsavath believes he’s “made for” those moments.

In a 62-53 win over Heritage at home Friday, it wasn’t so much one shot or one moment that put the Falcons over the top, but a steady sequence of plays to turn away several Heritage rallies.

Kousonsavath was at the forefront of it. The 6-foot guard scored 13 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers to swing momentum back to Prairie after Heritage’s Michael Houston hit a 3-pointer to bring the Timberwolves within two points with five minutes left.

“I just knew I had to take over,” Kousonsavath said. “It was kind of getting close, Heritage was coming back a little bit. But I just had to take over, do my thing (and) stick all my shots.

“I feel like I’m made for the clutch moments.”

The win was one the Falcons needed after dropping four of their first five games to open the season, including 3A Greater St. Helens League games against Kelso and Mountain View. It was also the first loss of the season for Heritage (6-1, 1-1 3A GSHL), led by Vernon Onick’s 15 points, and could end up being an important result in the five-team league.

The difference for Prairie on Friday was their energy, coach Jimmy Tuominen said, and it was evident from the opening tip. The Falcons jumped out on a 7-0 run and led by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter. They never trailed in the game. Down the stretch, keeping the lead was in large part thanks to the team’s three seniors, Kousonsavath, Tyson Davis (nine points) and Bryson Jones (nine points).

“(We were) talking about our energy level being up and the more we talk, the better we play,” Prairie coach Jimmy Tuominen said. “Then, certainly, of course, seniors stepping up. Obviously Bailey played well, but Tyson Davis did some really nice things tonight as well, and then Bryson Jones hitting some free throws at the end to cement it was huge. Just proud of the guys for stepping up, especially the seniors.”

For a team that lacked varsity experience starting the season, those seniors were seen as a big part of the equation for a team with aspirations of reaching the postseason. That was especially true for Kousonsavath, a returning starter who averaged 11 points per game last season. In the offseason, he caught the attention of coaches with the work he dedicated to improving his game.

“He’s probably, in terms of spending time in the summer getting better, getting bigger and stronger, he’s put the most time in,” Tuominen said. “We’ve expected this from him, and I think tonight, he sees now he can do it for the first time. I think that will be huge for his confidence the rest of the way. But his hard work is paying off.”

In Tuominen’s tenure at Prairie, both as the team’s head coach since 2021 and before that, as an assistant since 2006, this time right around Christmas after the opening weeks of the season is typically when they “get the Falcon train moving,” he said. The hope for the Falcons is a win like Friday can help snowball momentum as they hit the road for holiday tournaments in Wenatchee and Seattle before resuming 3A GSHL play in January.

“This win just encourages us to get better and keep pushing through the season,” Kousonsavath said.

“They’re my brothers, and our chemistry is finally coming together. We had a rough start, but we’re finally putting our pieces together and using them.”


HERITAGE — Vernon Onick 15, Jose Zacarias 7, Hanson Bui 0, D’Lo Holmes 6, Michael Houston 8, Georgiy Gudishvili 0, Jo’siah Osburn 0, Alex Vo 0, Jarius Brown 8, Micah Cunningham 0, Quincy Gill 8. Totals 18 (8) 9-14 53.

PRAIRIE — Alex Juhl 2, Bailey Kousonsavath 34, AJ Burke 0, Bryson Jones 9, Tyson Davis 9, Carson Morningstar 0, Brendan Carter 0, Cam Newsome 8, Dominick Vigue 0. Totals 21 (3) 17-27 62.

Heritage 11 15 10 17—53

Prairie 19 14 9 20—62

JV — Prairie won