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State-bound Pirates headed to Nampa; tourney opens Thursday

— Prairie ran into a buzz saw in its district title matchup against the team most observers favor at the outset of the 1AD1 state tournament. But as the only team in the tournament to have played a close game against Lapwai this season, the Pirates may be primed to force a rematch in the classification’s biggest game.

With the District II title at stake last Friday, Feb. 13, Lapwai pulled away, 72-43, after scoring three quick baskets. The first three scores each put a different dimension of the Wildcats’ attack on display: They struck first by turning a steal into a layup, struck again by putting back an offensive rebound, and again on a long jump shot.

Prairie’s offense came to life after a timeout, and kept Lapwai within seven points through much of the first quarter. But the Wildcats lead grew to 19 by halftime, with Whitepine League “player of the year” Iris Domebo executing the kind of individual plays rarely seen at this level. KORT radio man Jim Church described Domebo attacking the basket off the dribble, starting her move with a deft head fake and finishing it with a drop step in the lane.

Lapwai also scores in bulk at long range; the Wildcats tallied 10 treys during the district championship.

The Pirates’ top scorers last Friday — Kayla Schumacher (16 points), Krystin Uhlenkott (13) and Shayla VonBargen — have been Prairie’s principle threats this season, but WPL “coach of the year” Lori Mader’s teams have long been rooted in aggressive defense and multi-pronged offense. The Pirates’ balance is exemplified not only by all-leaguers Schumacher (first team), Uhlenkott (first team) and VonBargen (second team) but also by an eight-deep rotation out of which any player may step up.

Prairie’s first-round foe, Liberty Charter, enters the tournament as the third-ranked team in the state with a 16-2 overall record, a 39-28 loss to Notus being its only stumble within the 1AD1 classification. (Notus was knocked out by Genesee, 45-38, last Saturday, Feb. 14.)

Prairie’s potential second round opponents include Challis (16-5) and Oakley (12-11).

Prairie’s opening round game against Liberty Charter will be played at 8 p.m. MT on Thursday, Feb. 19, at Columbia High School in Nampa. Win or lose, Prairie will play Friday at Columbia. A win would pit the Pirates against the Challis-Oakley winner at 8 p.m. MT; a loss would them put up against elimination at 3 p.m. MT.

Third- and fifth-place games will be played at 9:15 a.m. MT and 11 a.m. MT at Columbia.

The state championship game is set for 11:30 a.m. MT Saturday at the Idaho Center.


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