Prairie at State: Day 3 notes

Celebrate the past, present, and future:
It will be strange not seeing the Prairie Falcons playing Saturday in a trophy game. Even representatives of the WIAA were talking about it. They wondered how long it had been. Well, Prairie seniors Michelle Bolliger and Taylor Peacock were not even in kindergarten the last time Prairie did not get a trophy.

Yeah, a long time.

But please do not think that means this year’s squad failed to live up to any expectations. If anything, this year’s team exceeded expectations. 

Prairie had two seniors, four juniors, two sophomores, and three freshmen playing in the dome this year. Plus a junior and a sophomore who were out with injuries. That’s a young team, and a team that still reached the championship quarterfinals at the state tournament. Trophy or not, that’s a successful campaign.

So allow me to congratulate coach Al Aldridge for an amazing run — 12 consecutive seasons with a trophy — and this year’s young squad for earning the program a 13th consecutive appearance at the state tournament. 

“They had a good season, and they overcame a lot of adversity,” Aldridge said. “They need to keep their heads up.”

Here is how the trophy era breaks down. And as far as the future, don’t be surprised to see a few more trophies.

1998: Championship
1999: Championship
2000: Second place
2001: Third place
2002: Second place
2003: Championship
2004: Third place
2005: Fourth place
2006: Second place
2007: Sixth place
2008: Third place
2009: Seventh place
2010: No trophy, but a win in the championship bracket, and an appearance in the elite eight.

Credit where credit is due:
Officially, freshman Emily Rowe scored 12 points in Friday’s state tournament game.  If she becomes a force in the next three years and scores a bunch of points, and state tournament officials are trying to find a grand total, you know, for record purposes, just remember this now: She should have scored two more.

Rowe was 6 of 9 from the floor and 2 of 3 from the line for 14 points. However, the official scorers credited one of her buckets to a teammate. No big deal in the long run. In The Columbian, we gave Rowe 14 points. I checked with Prairie’s book, as well as another courtside observer, and all three of us had her for 14 points. 

Tough losses, big wins:
Al Aldridge called it a “roller coaster” year,  with several highs and lows. He said his team suffered through some losses that the program had never experienced before; the lopsides losses by 25 or more points. 

But he also remembers the good times.

After losing to Camas in the district championship game, the Falcons had to go on the road in the bi-district, just to get to state. The Falcons then stunned White River in the opening round of that tournament, punching their ticket to Tacoma. Aldridge said his squad might have lost to that team eight out of 10 times.

“We got them when it counted, though,” Aldridge said.

He also called it one of the most enjoyable wins of his career. Notice all those trophies above: that’s saying something.

Angela Gelhar only made it to the free throw line twice in the three games. Of course, she made both of them. She finished the season 103-116, 89 percent. That deserves a Wow.



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