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Title company: Prairie adds another basketball championship to its books

Prairie found a way past Lapwai during the 1AD1 boys basketball state championship game last Saturday, March 7. Standout Jake Bruner was sidelined by foul trouble for most of Prairie’s second round game against Valley, but led the Pirates to victory over the Vikings in overtime last Friday night, March 6. Bruner delivered a team-high 16 points during the title game (top right), even as Lapwai blanketed Rhett Schlader (top left). Schlader’s foul shooting proved decisive during crunch time of the championship game, but Prairie’s 
tournament run hinged on timely contributions throughout the tournament by Terran Peery, Tanner Ross and Lucas Arnzen (lower right).

Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Prairie found a way past Lapwai during the 1AD1 boys basketball state championship game last Saturday, March 7. Standout Jake Bruner was sidelined by foul trouble for most of Prairie’s second round game against Valley, but led the Pirates to victory over the Vikings in overtime last Friday night, March 6. Bruner delivered a team-high 16 points during the title game (top right), even as Lapwai blanketed Rhett Schlader (top left). Schlader’s foul shooting proved decisive during crunch time of the championship game, but Prairie’s tournament run hinged on timely contributions throughout the tournament by Terran Peery, Tanner Ross and Lucas Arnzen (lower right).



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Jake Bruner

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Prairie celebrated its second consecutive basketball title, but not before celebrating a difficult win over Valley.

Already ultimate victors in basketball, baseball and football, the Prairie class of 2015 boys last weekend added a second basketball championship to the records of their high school times. A half-dozen multi-sport, multi-champion PHS seniors are slated to graduate, and by way of wins over Ambrose, Valley and Lapwai at the 1AD1 tournament March 5-7, they staked another claim to fame.

Prairie arrived in Nampa with much to win, but perhaps more to lose. The Pirates had outscored their peers 207-122 at the 2014 state basketball tournament, and the PHS returners burnished an aura of invincibility by dominating the football playoffs last fall. During basketball season, they scorched 14 consecutive opponents before Lapwai marshalled a surprising upset in the district title game.

Prairie went on to beat Lapwai 54-50 in the rematch during the state title game last Saturday, March 7, at Idaho Center.

Dropping the district title game had raised the immediate specter of having to play Ambrose – the 2014 1AD2 runner-up with a sterling regular season resume – during the first round last Thursday night, March 5. During the first two minutes, Ambrose deployed jitterbug point guard Jaxon Hughes to a considerable advantage. Hughes saddled starting guard Bryson Higgins with three quick fouls, after which Terran Peery checked in, after which the Pirates pushed out to a 64-48 victory.

Lucas Arnzen (22 points), Jake Bruner (11) and Tanner Ross (10) all scored double-figures, with Arnzen and Bruner both posting double-digit rebound totals.

Second-round foe Valley feverishly tried to exorcise the ghosts of the lopsided score Prairie posted during the football title game, but the Vikings could not crack PHS even in overtime, which the Pirates carried 54-47. Bruner had played every minute against Ambrose, but rode the bench for nearly nine minutes after picking up his third foul just before halftime and his fourth about a minute into the third quarter. Rhett Schlader put PHS ahead 42-40 with a one-handed lefty putback with four minutes left in regulation. Valley reclaimed the lead, 45-43, with a three-pointer, but Bruner restored a tie, 45-45, by hunting down and putting back a loose ball other Pirates had pinballed repeatedly above the rim. The tie persisted into overtime, but Bruner iced it at the free throw line after fouling out Valley’s big man, Doug Elorrieta.

Bruner (14), Schlader (14) and Arnzen (10) scored double-digits, while Bruner, Schlader and Ross posted double-figures rebounding.

During the title game, Lapwai opened with a 6-2 scoring run. Prairie never trailed by more than five and after Arnzen’s jump shot from the elbow put PHS ahead, 15-13, the Pirates never relinquished the lead. Lapwai kept it within one possession into the third quarter, but after Schlader converted two technical foul free throws, PHS began to open up a lead. Ross added a tip-in and Bruner converted an alley-oop during the moments after the technical, which was whistled against Imani Mitchell. Bruner’s jumper late in the third quarter increased Prairie’s lead to nine, 38-29. Lapwai stormed back to within four on Mitchell’s layup with 2:24 remaining, but the Pirates relieved the building pressure by making their crunch time free throws. Schlader made all 10 of his foul shots in the course of notching a 15-12 double-double.

Bruner scored 16. Schlader, Ross, Arnzen, Higgins, John Mager and Mason Dalgliesh are slated to graduate.



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