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Lapwai tops Prairie in district title game



— Seven lead changes during the first half signaled a close game, but for much of the contest, Lapwai stood firmly in control of the 1AD1 District II boys district title game Friday night at the LCSC Activity Center. During the short stretches when the Pirates' shots were falling, Prairie evened up the game -- but a bit of treachery in the Pirates' shooting touch combined with timely shooting by the Wildcats allowed Lapwai to sustain scoring runs up to double-digit leads early and late in the game.

Rhett Schlader broke Prairie's bad breaks with 11 points including three three-pointers during the final minute, but PHS nevertheless fell 61-56. Schlader finished with 20, with Jake Bruner's 15, Tanner Ross's 10 and Lucas Arnzen's nine providing much of the scoring that kept Prairie within striking distance to the very end.

Down by 12 with a bit more than a minute remaining, Prairie closed within one possession of a tie when Schlader was whacked during his try for a fourth late three-pointer. He holed two of the three ensuing foul shots, lifting PHS within three, 59-56.

Lapwai added on a couple of foul shots, but by then, the clock had become an unbeatable opponent.

Having doubled Prairie's total during the first quarter, the Wildcats built an 11-point lead early in the second quarter. The Pirates started swinging after Schlader finished off a Lapwai turnover. Ross sank a hook shot, then Bruner put in a layup. Bruner had a traditional three-point play opportunity when he was fouled mid-putback with about four minutes left in the second quarter. The free throw did not find net, but did fall to Arnzen, who drew another Wildcats foul in the course of finishing off the second chance. Lapwai led by three and called timeout with Arnzen's foul shot pending. Arnzen made it, and Bruner followed up with another layup to knot it at 21-21.

PHS pulled briefly ahead by dominating the offensive glass, with Ross scoring a short-range shot. Lapwai answered with a three, which Schlader answered by cherry-picking a layup. Courage Lone Bear, Lapwai's leading scorer during the early going, put in his 10th point of the first half to keep the Wildcats ahead at halftime. Imani Mitchell paced the Wildcats with 19, and Cameron Shawl totaled 14.

Prairie nearly survived a slow start -- three for 13 from the field during the early going -- as well as a rocky third quarter. The third turned on Shawl sinking a trey off of an ankle-breaking crossover dribble and ended with a block-charge call that went against Ross and allowed Mitchell's late layup to stand.

PHS finished with 21 makes on 55 shots from the field, and added 13 free throws on 22 attempts from the line.

The teams may meet again at the 1AD1 state tournament, which runs next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Vallivue High School in Caldwell. The teams will be seeded on opposite sides of the bracket, and so could meet in the March 7 championship game at the Idaho Center in Nampa. Prairie's state tournament run will open against District III champion Ambrose at 8 p.m. March 5 in Caldwell.



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