Prairie, Union notes: Day 1 at State

Prairie girls 47, Lynnwood 38

Union boys 63, North Central 54





Sleep in Thursday:

The Prairie Falcons likely won’t sleep all morning Thursday, but they should get a lot more sleep than they did prior to Wednesday’s game.

The (bad) luck of the draw put Prairie in the 9 a.m. game to open the Class 3A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome. That meant a 6 a.m. wake-up call at the team’s hotel.

Well, enough of that.

Prairie rallied to beat Lynnwood on Wednesday, getting out of the breakfast club.

The Falcons will play Holy Names in the state quarterfinals Thursday with a 3:30 p.m. tip-off. 

Lynnwood will get the 9 a.m. game again, in the consolation bracket.

No matter what happens the rest of the tournament, the Falcons will not have to play another morning game.

Fan support:

Lynnwood had hundreds of students show up for the first-round contest. And they were loud. 

Prairie had few students. Maybe just a dozen or so who were not associated with the team or the cheer squad.

A Prairie official said the low turnout is likely due to the 9 a.m. start and the two-hour drive from Vancouver. He expected more fans for Thursday’s quarterfinals.

The Lynnwood fans teased the Falcons some, shouting that they “all live in little houses.”

Get it? Little House on the Prairie? 

Well, if that’s trash talk, at least it was good, clean fun trash talk.

Nice freebies:

Playing basketball in a dome takes some getting used to for some players. The space behind the basket on one end and the curtain behind the basket on the other end are such different backdrops than the typical high school gymnasium.

Prairie freshman Jackie Lanz missed two free throws in the first half, and the shots weren’t even close.

She more than made up for it in the second half, though.

Lanz was fouled taking a 3-pointer with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter. She calmly sank all three free throws to tie the game.

“She settled herself down and got her confidence back,” Prairie coach Al Aldridge said.

The Falcons were 2 of 6 from the line in the first half, then 9 of 10 in the second half — all in the fourth quarter.

Super subs: 

The Falcons have 11 players in uniform this week, and Prairie coach Al Aldridge told them that everyone would have to play, and everyone would have to be ready when they were called into action.

Andrea Smith is usually one of the first off the bench for the Falcons. But a leg injury was a concern to Aldridge, and she did not play at all in the first half.

She got the call in the third quarter, though, and made her presence known. The 11th player to get in the game for Prairie, Smith scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, blocked a shot, and had two steals — all in 10 minutes.

Her three-point play early in the fourth quarter started the 17-1 run that won the game for Prairie. 

The Falcons needed some offense, too. At the time, they were trailing 34-28 with a little more than six minutes left in the game. Yes, the Prairie offense had 28 points through three quarters. 

Smith provided the spark, and the Falcons would score 19 points in the period.

It wasn’t just Smith, though. All of the reserves made positive contributions. 

Smith, Kat Vela, Megan Lindsley, and Taylor Peacock were on the floor with starter Jackie Lanz when Prairie started its rally. 

“All our subs are strong,” Smith said. “Everyone was playing at the same level.”

Who was that guy?

Vishal Sanghera does not always get off the bench for the Union Titans, but he sure made the most of his opportunity Wednesday.

Sanghera, a senior, swished his only shot of the game — a 3-pointer — giving Union its first lead of the game midway through the second quarter. 

“All our guys, I tell them, ‘You’ve got to be ready,'” Union coach Maco Hamilton said. 

A minute later, Sanghera stopped a fast break, taking a charge. 

“They were hurting us with transition,” Hamilton said.

Not on that play, though. 

Sanghera also had a steal, for a very strong five minutes of play.

Getting defensive:

North Central was on pace to score 80 points on the Titans after the first quarter.

Not even close.

Union’s defense rose to the challenge, starting in the second quarter. North Central was 2 of 13 from the floor in the period. The Indians then went 4 of 13 in the third period for a 6-of-26 stretch. 

Union’s offense got it together on the other end, and the Titans pulled away for the win.

“We’ve been defending as well as anyone in the state since the playoffs began,” Union senior Chris Morgan said. “That’s something you don’t think of when you think of a Union team. But we’ve been working hard.”

Getting rebounds:

No matter the opponent, Union usually is the smaller team on the court. 

That just means the Titans have to concentrate more on boxing out, performing the fundamentals to get rebounds.

Against North Central, the Titans struggled early in the game, but then took care of the boards in the final three quarters. In the end, North Central led the category 34-32, but that’s a number the Union coaches can live with.

Union wants to keep it close on the boards, then take advantage of its strengths, such as pressure defense for 32 minutes. Union scored 21 points off of 19 North Central turnovers. 

The Titans ended up with a nine-point advantage in the points-off-turnovers category, the margin of victory Wednesday.

Spread it around

No surprise that Chris Morgan led Union in scoring with 21 points against North Central, but the Titans don’t rely only on his scoring abilities. 

Morgan had 19 of his points through three quarters. Four other players — Taylor Nelson, Caleb Whalen, Kyle Holmes, and Tanner Nelson — scored in the final period, when the Titans were holding off a desperation charge by North Central.

Schedule quirk:

The boys tournament was running about 50 minutes late for its scheduled 5 p.m. tip-off Wednesday. 

That does not bode well for Thursday, which is typically a longer day.

All 32 teams — 16 boys and 16 girls — are still in the tournament, plus it’s picture day. Whoo hooo!

Yes, before every game, the cheer squads and the teams take a quick minute to have their official state tournament portraits taken. Yes, it only takes a minute or so for each squad, but it adds up.

It is not uncommon for the final game of Thursday to start after 10 p.m. (The schedule has 8:30 p.m. as the final start of the day.)

Anyway, the Prairie girls (3:30 p.m. scheduled) and Union boys (5 p.m.) should not be playing too deep into the night, but don’t be surprised if they are about 45 minutes or an hour behind schedule.

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