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Dragons Capture Third Place St. George’s Senior Takes Over In Crunch Time

It was a case of too much Miranda Routh-Corker in Saturday’s battle for third and sixth place at the Arena.

The senior forward hoisted St. George’s onto her back and willed the Dragons to a thrilling 44-43 victory over a valiant Sprague-Harrington Falcons team.

“I love this team,” said an emotional Routh-Corker after the game. “These girls have so much drive and talent that I wouldn’t put anything past them.”

The Dragons are young and talented, for sure, but they’ll be hard-pressed to find the next Routh-Corker.

“Miranda has such a presence on this team,” said St. George’s coach Ross Thomas. “We’ll definitely have to retool the offense next year. We don’t really have anyone to step into her shoes.

“It was sad for the longest time because she kept getting into foul trouble. We worked on getting her to settle down. She’s the kind of person who wants to take on the machine-gun nest by herself.”

It was flashback time in the fourth quarter, however.

Only Routh-Corker didn’t take on a machine-gun nest, she took on the Falcons.

Routh-Corker hit 5 of her 7 shots from the floor, both of her free-throw attempts and accounted for 12 of her team’s 14 points in the last eight minutes.

It was the kind of game where every shot, every turnover, every missed free throw was magnified.

The biggest lead either team had was four points. There were nine lead changes and the game was tied 10 times.

Sprague-Harrington played like anything but a state tournament first-timer.

“They’re sad and happy,” said Falcons coach Stacia Soliday. “I have to keep reminding them of what they’ve accomplished. We just never got things going on offense the whole tournament. I mean we really had some horrible shooting percentages.”

Both teams have a lot to look forward to. Their young players got some valuable tournament experience, and that can only bode well for next year’s editions.

“I’ll tell you what, I can’t wait,” said Thomas. “I told the girls after the game that, hopefully, I’ll see them next year in the night game. I know Ritzville, Sprague-Harrington, Wilbur-Creston and Selkirk will have something to say about that, but we’ve got some talent coming back.”

It’s the same story for Sprague-Harrington.

“We’ll miss our seniors,” said Soliday. “But we have four starters coming back and another one who would have started had she not broken her hand at the start of the season. We’ve got something to build on now.”

For Routh-Corker, though, it was something to remember.

“(The Falcons) were a tough, very strong team,” she noted with a smile. “Very strong. I may be 5-10, but my, my. Ross did a good job talking to us, telling us to play hard, that we didn’t want to look back when we’re 40 years old and know that we didn’t give it all we had.”

There’s no chance any player on either team will have to worry about that.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo