PROSSER -- Tayshia Hunt showed her mettle last year during Prosser's run to the 2A state semifinals.
So the Mustangs junior wasn't about to be rattled by missing her first 10 shots -- including four free throws -- in Friday's CWAC showdown with No. 9 Ellensburg at Bowden Court.
"She's a tough kid," said Prosser coach Mark Little.
Hunt showed her toughness down the stretch by hitting her final five shots, including a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left that helped clinch the Mustangs' 54-52 come-from-behind victory.
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"There was a little bit of relief there," said Hunt, who finished with nine points. "I just knew I needed to nail those shots."
Helen Petersen also nailed two free throws with 7.7 seconds left, then the Mustangs survived a last-second scare when Deaira Gordon was fouled on a desperation 3-pointer.
Gordon swished the first two foul shots, but Tamara Jones sliced through the lane to rebound the deliberate miss on the final attempt as the buzzer sounded.
The win avenged an earlier 58-50 loss to the Bulldogs and puts Prosser in the driver's seat for the No. 2 district seed and a bye through to the semifinals.
"We talked before the game about how we had to beat them so we could finish in second," said Jones, who led Prosser with 17 points.
Prosser's collective toughness was tested early. Jones was benched after committing an early foul, and Andrea Bland hit three 3s from the same spot on the right wing to help Ellensburg jump out to a 17-5 lead.
"We got hit in the face right away," Little said. "I'm proud of the girls. They came back and got an important win."
They did it behind Jones, who returned with a vengeance in the second quarter. She scored Prosser's first nine points of the period as the Mustangs closed to within 24-20 at halftime.
Hunt, meanwhile, led a revived defensive effort. She had six steals, Prosser had 13 as a team and forced 25 turnovers that it converted into 27 points.
The Mustangs had a third-quarter stretch where they forced five consecutive turnovers and scored off each, erasing a 35-28 deficit to lead 38-35.
"We had too many unforced errors," said Ellensburg coach Craig Faire. "We jumped on them early, but I've seen it too many times in this league -- good teams are going to come back on you."
The Bulldogs recovered to lead 43-41 with 6:09 left, but the Mustangs answered with a 7-0 run over the next 2 minutes, capped by Kelli Wilson's banked 3 from the left wing.
"Hey, the bank's open late on Fridays," Little quipped. "That was a huge shot."
Little also praised his team's improved defense after watching Ellensburg shoot 53 percent in the opening quarter.
"We just began to do a better job of getting out on their 3-point shooters," he said. "We were a little hesitant at first on defense, but we got things figured out."
Gordon, who scored her 1,000th career point Thursday in a win over Toppenish, hit four 3s and scored a game-high 21 points.
Bland added 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.
Prosser 54, Ellensburg 52
ELLENSBURG -- Deaira Gordon 21, S.Bland 9, Layman 2, A.Bland 14, Quirk, Kelly 2, Carlson 4, Gant, Hull, Quirk. Totals 19-45 6-10 52.
PROSSER -- Tamara Jones 17, Wilson 5, Hunt 9, Anderson 8, Petersen 7, K.Flores, Hudak 2, Mercer 4, T.Flores 2. Totals 23-53 6-13 54.
Ellensburg 17 7 14 14 -- 52
Prosser 5 15 18 16 -- 54
Highlights -- Ell 8x15 3pt, Pro 2x10; Ell 35 rbs, Pro 22; Ell 25 TOs, Pro 13; Shannon Bland 8 rbs; Kim Kelly 5 asts; Gordon 7 rbs; Jones 5 rbs, 3 asts; Kelli Wilson 3 asts; Tayshia Hunt 6 stls; Helen Petersen 4 asts, 3 stls.