The game started out just like coach Steven Weddle would want. It was fast paced. Prairiland jumped out to an early lead. They seemed to have control. The second half, though, turned Chapel Hill’s way and the Patriots found themselves on the wrong end of a 61-53 score.
Two nights after a last-second win over their cross county rivals, the Patriots picked up right where they left off. Connor Sessums and Ryan Butler looked unstoppable for the Patriots. Sessums and Butler combined for 31 of Prairiland’s 53 points. They also had 13 of the team’s 23 rebounds.
“I like how we came out and got on them early,” Weddle said after the game. “We got up double figures and things seemed to be going our way.”
After the first quarter, the Patriots enjoyed a 16–7 lead over Chapel Hill. At the half, though, it was down to four at 26–22.
“They got really hot,” Weddle said. “(John) French got really hot. He shot lights out with hands in his face.”
French finished with 32 points in the game with 26 of them coming in the second half. He also knocked down five from behind the 3-point line. The Patriots didn’t have an answer for him defensively and couldn’t match his offensive output on the other end.
Chapel Hill outscored Prairiland 39–27 in the second half to win the game.
“A sign of a good program is kids who play hard and get after it no matter the circumstance,” Weddle said about his team’s no-quit attitude. “These kids did that all year long, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Sessums led Prairland in their final game with 17 points. He also grabbed 5 rebounds. Butler finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Brylee Galloway added 8 points and 2 rebounds. Jeremiah Harrison contributed 6 points.
Brooks Morrison finished with 5 points and 2 boards. Blake Ballard had 3 for Prairiland.
“I told the seniors I was proud of them and appreciated them,” Weddle said. “This may be the best year I’ve ever had as far as kids getting here and being at practice and not missing.”
With the loss, the Patriots season is officially over and they can move on to baseball and offseason workouts. Coaches will look back and reflect on what might have been.
“We were about three shots and 30 seconds away from being in the middle of a playoff race, but that’s happens. You learn from it, and you move on. You realize your program’s in good shape as long as they’re playing like they’re playing,” Weddle said.