LAPWAI — For 32 minutes, the undefeated Lapwai Wildcats played into Prairie’s hands.
For the final eight, they took matters into their own.
Omari Mitchell scored 18 points and Ciahna Oatman caught fire in the late stages as the top-ranked Lapwai girls’ basketball team erased a seven-point deficit in the final nine minutes to beat the Pirates 60-44 on Thursday to retain sole possession of first place in the Whitepine League Division I standings.
The Pirates, ranked No. 2 in the state and whose only two losses have come to Lapwai, slowed the Wildcats’ vaunted transition game and led 38-31 late in the third quarter before Lapwai sped up the tempo and dominated the final period 25-6.
“I was kind of scared, but I just kept playing through it,” Lapwai guard Jordyn McCormack-Marks said of the second-half deficit. “I think we were getting flustered and making turnover after turnover. Then we started to calm down and move the ball.”
Jordan Shawl’s 23-footer put the Wildcats (16-0, 11-0) back in the lead at 40-39 with less than six minutes left, then they began pulling away with a flurry of takeaways in the final four minutes. McCormack-Marks turned a steal into a layin to make it 48-42, and Lapwai held Prairie (13-2, 9-2) to no field goals in the final quarter.
The Pirates, who placed second to Lapwai in the Idaho state tournament last year, were left lamenting a 17-for-33 showing at the foul line and 25 turnovers, several of them in crunch time.
“We’ve played them too many times, too many tight games — we know that we can’t lose our minds and go bananas,” Prairie coach Lori Mader said. “And at hafltime we were 9-for-20 from the charity stripe. That makes a huge difference.”
Lapwai led 25-22 in the second quarter before coaches’ protestations about a call drew a technical foul. Madison Shears of Prairie converted both free throws, Ellea Uhlenkott hit a layin off a feed from Delanie Lockett, and the Pirates led 27-25 at hafltime. Tara Schlader hit two buckets midway through the third quarter as the PHS lead grew.
“We couldn’t hit easy shots, we couldn’t make layins,” Lapwai coach Ada Marks said of the first three quarters. “When the defense started kicking in, that’s when our offense started flowing a little bit better.”
Oatman finished with 11 points and five steals; McCormack-Marks had nine points, seven rebounds and four steals; and Grace Sobotta added eight points and nine rebounds.
Lockett tallied 12 points for the Pirates and Shears went 8-for-12 at the foul line and had 10 points. The Pirates ended Lapwai’s streak of topping 70 points five consecutive games.
PRAIRIE (13-2, 9-2)
Delanie Lockett 3 5-10 12, Kristin Wemhoff 2 1-3 5, Madison Shears 1 8-12 10, Ellea Uhlenkott 3 1-2 7, Tara Schlader 4 0-2 8, Hope Schwartz 0 2-4 2. Totals 13 17-33 44.
LAPWAI (16-0, 11-0)
Grace Sobotta 2 2-2 8, Jordyn McCormack-Marks 3 3-4 9, Glory Sobotta 2 0-0 5, Alexis Herrera 1 0-0 2, Ciahna Oatman 5 0-0 11, Lauren Gould 0 1-2 1, Kahlees Young 1 0-0 2, Omari Mitchell 7 2-3 18, Jordan Shawl 1 1-2 4. Totals 22 9-13 60.
Prairie 14 13 11 6—44
Lapwai 14 11 10 25—60
3-point goals — Lockett, Gr. Sobotta 2, Gl. Sobotta, Oatman, Mitchell 2, Shawl.
JV — Lapwai 38, Prairie 34.
Grummert may be contacted at email@example.com or (208() 848-2290.