CEDAR RAPIDS — Sarah Schmitt said the message was simple before Friday night’s game with Cedar Rapids Washington.
“(Coach Josh) Bentley told us this was a business trip,” the Cedar Rapids Prairie senior guard said. “I thought we really did a good job taking care of business.”
After starting 1-2, both losses coming in the last second to ranked foes Marion and Iowa City West, the Class 5A No. 8 Hawks finally closed the deal against a ranked foe. They broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to down No. 7 and previously unbeaten Washington 70-56 in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Washington High School.
“This was simply the next game on the schedule,” Bentley said. “We knew we had to be ready and focused and not really let emotions get to us. We had to play fearless and display toughness to get the job done.”
Prairie withstood the high-pressure defense from the Warriors and used a solid defense of its own to stymie the hosts in the second half, holding them to just 22 points after intermission.
“We had to get it into a half-court game,” Bentley said. “Against a team like Wash, if you think you are going to get on the floor and run with them, you are probably going to get beat most nights.”
For three quarters the game was tight with neither team leading by more than six at any point. Wash led 45-44 after a 3-point basket from senior Caitlin Riley with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
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From that point on, it was all Prairie. The Hawks went on an 11-0 run to take a 55-45 lead and control of the game with 4:07 remaining. With Wash forced to foul, the Hawks closed the deal by scoring their final 13 points of the game from the foul line. Prairie was 25-of-29 from the stripe for the game.
Juniors Sidney McCrea and Mallory McDermott led the Hawks (6-2, 3-1) with 21 and 20 points respectively. Schmitt, a Nebraska-Omaha recruit, added 14.
“They both did really well tonight,” Schmitt said. “They were hitting shots and when you know who is hitting, you just have to keep getting them the ball.”
Washington (7-1, 4-1) was led by Riley with 19 points, Hannah Stuelke added 14 and Sammy Mia finished with 12.
Prairie finishes a run of six of seven games on the road with a game at Dubuque Senior on Jan. 4. Washington will be at Western Dubuque on the same night.