LEWISTON – The Prairie girls trailed 8-0 in a flash Friday night, Feb. 8, but as has been the case when these teams have met in trophy games throughout the recent past, the score tightened as the intensity escalated during the first half. But after the Wildcats rebuilt their lead during the third quarter, they were able to extend a 48-40 advantage to win by 17, 69-52.
With the victory comes bragging rights, as the Wildcats once again laid claim to the District II tournament trophy.
With nine points during the first half and a team-high 17 India Peery gave life to a rally that had the teams even at 30-all at halftime.
The Pirates led 19-16 after the first quarter on a buzzer-beating trey by Madison Shears, who totaled 10 in the contest. Peery -- who had a traditional three-point play as well as one from the long line during the first quarter – opened scoring in the second quarter with a jumper good for a five-point Pirates edge. It turned out to be Prairie’s biggest lead of the night.
Glory Sabotta, who finished with 17 for Lapwai, broke the halftime tie with a three, and the teams traded scores back and forth for much of the period. After Lapwai pulled ahead 35-31, Jordyn Higgins delivered a three-pointer. Omari Mitchell, who finished with 16 for Lapwai, answered with a fast break layup. Shears replied with a layup off an assist from Peery, and Theresa Wemhoff (10 points) put Prairie ahead, briefly, 38-37, with a spin move for a layup. Raquel Domebo struck back for Lapwai, and Peery countered with a jumper, making it 40-39, Prairie.
Mitchell then connected for back-to-back baskets, which mushroomed into the 9-0 Lapwai run that ultimately proved decisive.
While Prairie remained stuck on 42 points deep into the fourth quarter, Lapwai added seven on a mix of foul shots, press breaks and half-court sets.
Prairie closed within 10, 59-49, on a triple by Shears with about 3:15 remaining, and the Pirates got within eight when Wemhoff scored off of a turnover, but Lapwai settled into a slower pace, forced Prairie to foul, and extended the lead back to double-digits at the free throw line.
Both teams are set to travel to the state tournament next week and, if the pattern of history holds, they may meet again in the title game. The state tournament runs Feb. 14-16 and starts at Columbia High School in Nampa; Prairie will face Notus at 3 p.m. Thursday, and Lapwai will square off against Rimrock at 8 p.m. that evening.