While the Prairie Falcons struggled to take flight against league opponent Mountain View High School, the team rallied under the school’s “tougher together” mottos gracing the gym walls and fought their way to a dramatic 61-60 comeback win, Wednesday, Jan. 24.
After trailing as much as 17 points to the Thunder, a clutch 3-pointer by Prairie’s Cam Newsome with 25 seconds left in the game secured the victory for the Falcons in the barn burner.
Prairie Falcons head coach Jimmy Tuominen said he had debated calling a time out and getting his players settled after their emotions ran high during their comeback. Instead, he is glad he let the game play out.
“Sometimes you just have to let the guys go, and we had big time momentum, and I just thought, ‘You know, we can get one stop right here,’ and we did,” Tuominen said. “... I’m really proud of the guys for competing in that last possession.”
The Thunder had multiple chances to reclaim the lead in their last possession, but the Prairie Falcons shut them down.
After the 3A Greater St. Helens League win for the Falcons last week, Tuominen said he believes his team can be successful in February.
“I told the guys, if we can navigate our way and get to the playoffs, then I think we’re going to be the most battle-tested team to be playing in February,” Tuominen said. “And that’s what it’s really all about is being battle tested and ready to go when those tough games come.”
In their biggest battle of the season yet, things started poorly for the Falcons. The Thunder maintained a 14-point lead over the Falcons at both the end of the first and second quarter and entered the second half ahead 40-26. The Falcons only cut that deficit by one point, to trail 54-39 going into the fourth quarter.
The gritty Falcon squad held the electric Thunder offense to only six points while posting 19 points in the fourth quarter, clawing their way back to 60-58, just in time for Newsome’s downtown splash.
Newsome and Carson Morningstar led Prairie with 16 points each, while Josh Crane added 10, Henry Moultrie scored nine points and Malachi Patton and Brendan Carter each posted five.
After the Wednesday win, Prairie found themselves a half game behind the Kelso Hilanders in the 3A Greater St. Helens League, whom they played Friday, Jan. 26. The Falcons lost that matchup 65-63.
Tuominen said he has stressed the importance of being mentally and physically tough all season to his players, adding that is now more important than ever heading into February.
“They got to enjoy the excitement of tonight’s win, and then wake up tomorrow when they come to school and ready the mindset,” Tuominen said Wednesday. “... If you’re going to win late in January and early February, you have to play with the rebound and get stops, and we got just enough tonight to do that. We have three sophomores that start and a freshman that gets a lot of minutes. So, we’re still a young team trying to figure out things in games right now.”
The Falcons are now 3-3 in league play after last week with two more league games slated this week. They hosted Heritage High School on Tuesday, Jan. 30, but results were unavailable at press time. They next travel to Evergreen High School for a 7 p.m. game on Thursday, Feb. 1.