The way the 2019 edition of the Grangeville-Prairie girls basketball rivalry began, nobody in the gym would have guessed it'd come down to a desperate scramble underneath the Pirates' basket as time expired. But in the end the game served as yet one more reminder how closely these rivals have played each other in recent years.
Grangeville won Tuesday night, Nov. 26, 47-45.
Late in the second quarter, Grangeville had led by 19, 29-10, after back-to-back treys from Camden Barger and Bailey Vanderwall coupled with a jumper by Talia Brown.
The Bulldogs picked apart the Prairie press with precise passing throughout the first half, leading 6-0 and 15-2 before pushing the lead to its widest with those three consecutive hoops.
Down 29-16 at the break, Prairie took better care of the ball while tightening defensively during the second half; combined with Grangeville's free throw shooting, the Pirates lifted themselves back into contention.
A pair of free throws by Madison Shears cut it to 10, 31-21, with 4:24 left in the third quarter, and a pair of free throws by Ellea Uhlenkott trimmed it to eight, 37-29, with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
India Peery's foul shot 16 seconds into the fourth made it seven. Shears scored a traditional three-point play off a turnover, cutting it to four, then followed up with an open three-pointer from the right side of the arc, which the Pirates produced from a six- or seven-pass possession.
But Grangeville never trailed. Colby Canaday's free throw made it 38-36 -- and that remained the score for much of the rest of the quarter.
One of three critical block/charge calls came with about five minutes left, as Zoe Lutz stood in against Peery's drive and booked the PHS senior's third personal.
After a scramble froze the ball near center court -- out of which Brown won the alternating possession for Grangeville -- Barger buried a three-pointer to make it a five-point lead, 41-36.
Pirates senior Ciara Chaffee answered, notching a three-point play, lifting Prairie back within two and drawing Lutz's fourth personal with 2:24 left.
Grangeville senior Makayla Roberts countered with a three-pointer engineered with three or four passes in a half-court set.
Uhlenkott struck back for Prairie, with her layup keeping Prairie within a possession, 44-41.
Grangeville called a timeout to retain possession out of another center-court scramble with 1:34 remaining, setting up an end game during which both sides converted key foul shots. Barger hit two for GHS; Shears hit two for PHS after drawing Lutz's fifth with 1:20 to go.
Uhlenkott cut it to one, 46-45, by faking her way past Brown on a dribble-drive for a layup.
The last point scored in the game went up with Vanderwall tallying the front end of a one-and-one with 48 seconds still on the clock. Vanderwall's miss on the back end led to a Prairie turnover and double-bonus free throws for Brown, who missed both.
The misses left Prairie an opening, through which Shears tried to dribble-drive with 14 seconds left; Brown planted herself in the gap, and was awarded the charge call against Shears.
Another miss at the foul line gave Prairie another look at a potential tying score, but a fast break during the final five seconds broke down into another scramble as time expired.
"They played a great first half and we played a better second half," Prairie head coach Lori Mader told the Free Press. "When you have 33 turnovers, it's pretty tough to recover when you have yourself buried by 19. ... We did a 2-3 pressure defense up top that kind of threw them off-kilter a bit, and got a few picks. That helped us a ton."
"We let them back in during the second half," Grangeville head coach Michelle Barger told the Free Press. "Prairie will do that to you. They're a fighting team. They don't like to lose, and neither do we. They played hard, and I give credit to them for coming back. We shouldn't have let them, but we did."
For Grangeville, Vanderwall scored 14 during the first half and finished the contest with 19 points and 10 steals. Barger scored 10 points and Lutz booked 12 rebounds.
For Prairie, Shears scored a game-high 22 points and Uhlenkott scored 10.
The teams will meet again at PHS on Dec. 6.