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Girls Basketball: Prairie Holds Off Xavier, Keeps Pace In MVC Valley

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa A big, black block of Mississippi Valley Conference championship banners, 31 in all, dominate the southeast wall of the Prairie High School gym.

There's a lot for wrestling and a few for bowling, cross country and other sports.

None for girls' basketball.

It's certainly not a certainty that one will come this winter. But there's a chance. A fighting chance.

Prairie remained tied atop the Valley Division, using a big third quarter and a 21-point night by Courteney McCrary to subdue Class 4A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 54-47, Tuesday night at Prairie.

"It's something (Prairie) has never done, and we're trying to reach for that," McCrary said. "There's still a lot of improving to do. We're not consistent. We need to be more steady."

Prairie (11-5 overall, 7-2 MVC) is tied for the top of division lead with Cedar Rapids Washington, and Waterloo West looms a half-game back. The Hawks face both of them in the stretch run.

"We've got a chance," Prairie Coach Steve Doser said. "Xavier and us, we were both 6-2, and we knew this was a chance to put up another notch."

The Saints (9-7, 6-3) scored the first basket of the second half for a 23-22 edge, but McCrary scored three straight baskets to fuel a 21-4 Prairie run. The Hawks twice led by 16 points.

"We couldn't defend a few of their kids," Xavier Coach Tom Lilly said. "That's the bottom line they exposed some of our weaknesses. When the other team has three kids in double digits and you have none, you're probably going to lose."

McCrary scored 14 points in the second half, 10 in the third quarter. She made 10 of 15 shots from the floor.

"I knew I had to not get into foul trouble," she said. "I'd been doing that a lot."

Madison Dellamuth added 13 points, Alisa Weiland scored 11.

Kayla Armstrong and Hayley Deutmeyer paced Xavier with nine points apiece.

Prairie faces a big test Friday at defending state champion Iowa City West. The Hawks go to Washington on Feb. 1, to Waterloo West on Feb. 8.

The road to a first divisional title is a hilly one, but at least it's paved.

Xavier hosts Cedar Falls on Friday.

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