The Prairie boys basketball team is playoff-bound after a wild finish at the 3A Greater St. Helens League third-place tiebreaker Monday night at Union High School.
Freshman Cam Newsome gave Prairie the lead with a fast-break finish with 50 seconds to go, then the Falcons had to withstand three challenges by Evergreen, including two missed free throws with no time left, to beat the Plainsmen 30-29 to advance to the 3A bi-district play-in game.
Prairie (5-15) will play Bainbridge on Wednesday at Black Hills High School in Tumwater for a berth into the 16-team 3A bi-district field.
Monday’s tiebreaker was a three-team affair after Evergreen, Heritage and Prairie finished tied for third place in the 3A GSHL with 2-6 league marks.
The format featured a pair of two-quarter games.
Evergreen eliminated Heritage in the first tiebreaker 30-24 when the Plainsmen opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run. Arthur Ban led the Plainsmen with 14 points.
The second tiebreaker with Prairie and Evergreen with tight throughout with neither building a lead larger than four points.
A turnover led to a fastbreak basket by Newsome to put Prairie up 30-29 with 50 seconds to go.
A defensive stop gave Prairie the ball, but the Falcons turned the ball back over to Evergreen with 26 seconds to go.
Dez Daniel missed a 3-pointer with about 10 seconds to go. Evergreen got the rebound, but Prairie got a steal in the lane. Prairie drew a foul with five seconds to go.
Another quick Evergreen foul gave Prairie another inbounds pass with four seconds to go. This time, the Falcons threw a long pass downcourt that appeared headed out of bounds before Henry Moultrie chased it down in the corner and drew a foul with two seconds left.
That foul put Prairie in the bonus, sending Moultrie to the line for a 1-and-1. Evergreen coach Brett Henry told an official that if Evergreen got the rebound off a missed free throw, he wanted a quick timeout.
Moultrie missed the front end and Evergreen rebounded the ball. The officials whistled for the timeout just before the final horn sounded, sending Prairie fans into an early celebration.
But the officials put one second back on the court.
Evergreen’s Quincy Caston threw the inbounds pass the length of the floor which Arthur Ban caught it in the lane and turned to shoot in one motion. The shot missed, but Prairie was whistled for a foul with no time left.
Both of Ban’s free throws were off the mark, sealing the win for Prairie.