Prairie girls state champions honored as 'Legends of the Game'
Prairie’s back to back state championship girls basketball teams from 1977 and 1978 were honored as being “Legends of the Game” Saturday evening at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa during halftime of the 5-A state championship game.
9 of the players from those teams along with their head coach Art Dorval were able to attend the ceremonies and each received a plaque and the school received a banner, which will hang in the PHS gym.
Those able to attend were Coach Art Dorval, Cindy Schultz, Carrie Riener Nygaard, Carla Uhlenkott Schnider, Della Uhlenkott Gehring, Brenda Hoene Hill, Denise Kuther Uhlenkott, Mary Tacke Leitch, Susan Poxleitner and Jeanene Arnzen. Sorry, we didn’t catch the married names for Arnzen and Poxleitner. Cheryl Sonnen was planning to attend but her son took sick as she was leaving town and she had to cancel. Unable to attend were Molly Miller Mizer, Diane Geis Hattrup, Mary Lee Arnzen, Diane Wassmuth, Ruth Schmidt and Debbie Van Engelen.
During the 4-A championship game the Idaho High School Athletic Association treated the group to a dinner that was paid for by the District 2 and 3 coaches associations and the district 2 officials association.
Cottonwood Chronicle reporter Greg Wherry was invited to attend the dinner by Nygaard as his first year covering sports for the Chronicle was during the 1976-77 season. The dinner was the best part of the whole thing for the team as it gave them and their coach a chance to catch up on what has happened since 1978. Dorval also asked each player to share a personal memory from those years. Dorval also told the group what he has done since leaving Cottonwood and shared with the group how he got the coaching job and why they wound up in the Class A bracket that first year of the program in 1976 when they had to compete at state against Lewiston, Pocatello and Capital instead of in the B bracket which was won that year by Lapwai. Apparently the enrollment cutoff was 240 in grades 9-12 and thanks to a couple families moving into the district, Prairie had 243 students that year.
Prairie wound up third at state that first year with their only 2 losses coming to Lewiston during the season and Pocatello at State. The following year they finished 26-0 and won the state title. In 1978 they finished 26-1 with their only loss coming to A-4 state champion Highland, whose only loss that season came in the return match against Prairie. The 1978 seniors never lost a home game in their 3 years of play.
The Legends of the Game program started in 2001 as a way to recognize the great teams of the past. The 78-79 Grangeville girls and 1978 Highland girls had already been honored.
Nine of the sixteen players who played on the 1976 through 1978 Prairie girls teams were able to attend the Legends of the Game ceremonies Saturday evening at the Idaho Center. From left (with maiden names) are Della Uhlenkott, Carla Uhlenkott, Mary Tacke, Cindy Schultz, Susan Poxleitner, Denise Kuther, Brenda Hoene, Jeanene Arnzen and coach Art Dorval.
IHSAA officials and Cottonwood School Superintendent Rene’ Forsmann show the banner that the school will display for the Legends of the Game. For those concerned about the misspelled names on the banner, Forsmann hascontacted the IHSAA about getting them corrected.
The team and coach with spouses and guests during the dinner in the Rodeo Club at the Idaho Center.