It came down to defense, and Mid-Prairie wouldn’t have it any other way. It took a gutsy effort Saturday night but Mid-Prairie advanced to their first state tournament since 2004 with a 36-32 win over Williamsburg in the regional final at Cedar Rapids Prairie. It was slow going for Mid-Prairie offensively, the Golden Hawks could not score in the first six minutes of the game but the game was tied at four after the first period. The Hawks stayed hot on the defensive end and business picked up offensively in the second as Mid-Prairie broke out on a 15-3 run that lasted the entire quarter led by back to back to back three pointers, the first two from Erika Murphy and the third from Olivia Lugar. After the game Murphy talked about her shooting and the second quarter run.
“You know I was open the whole time and coach just told me that I had to start knocking them down and get our team back in this,” Murphy said.
In the second half Mid-Prairie would stretch the lead to as many as 15 points, but just as they did against Mediapolis on Wednesday Williamsburg put togeter a charge that got the Raiders within 31-29 with two minutes remaining. Leading 34-32 with nine seconds remaining Mid-Prairie senior Mallory McArtor was called on at the free throw line. She calmly stepped up and buried both to put the game out of reach, after the game she spoke about what she was thinking before the free throws.
“I’ve worked hard all season, free throws for me and for my team we’ve struggled through them, but I knew that if I made these we’d pull through in the end,” McArtor said.
McArtor led the way for Mid-Prairie with 10 points. The win puts the Golden Hawks into the state tournament field for the first time since 2004. Following the win Head Coach Marc Pennington spoke about the roller coaster of emotions over the final seconds.
“You know I can’t explain it, talk about a wave of emotions that go through your mind, when McArtor hit that last free throw, the wave of emotion that comes over you, it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” Pennington said. “It’s the greatest thing in the world and I am just so happy for our kids and our fans, for our parents, and I just couldn’t be happier for them.”
Mid-Prairie is now 18-6 on the year and will be in action Tuesday, February 26th at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines when they match up with 23-1 #2 ranked MOC-Floyd Valley at 3:15 in the afternoon. You can hear all of the action live on AM and FM KCII with pregame at 2:45 and tipoff at 3:15. The one to count on for today’s local sports coverage is AM and FM KCII