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Top-ranked Badgers thwart Nixyaawii rally
NORTH POWDER — There is a saying in postseason basketball made often by coaches that it is the beginning of a new season.
Powder Valley’s Trenton Dixon looked to make a move around a Nixyaawii defender during Friday’s Class 1A state playoff boys basketball game at North Powder. Powder Valley defeated the Eagles to advance to this week’s 1A tournament in Baker City. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
The saying found meaning Friday night at the Powder Valley High School gymnasium.
On paper the No. 1 Powder Valley boys basketball team looks much better than Nixyaawii.But the Golden Eagles appeared to be a much different team in the postseason.
The Badgers (18-2) watched a 26-point third quarter lead shrink to one point over an eight-minute span.
Powder Valley held off the phenomenal rally to defeat Nixyaawii, 87-78, in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
The Badgers advance to Baker City and the state’s final eight after Friday’s amazing game.
“I can’t believe they were shooting like that,” Powder Valley coach Kyle Dixon said. “It was unbelievable. They came back and gave us a good scare. I think we handled it in the last four minutes and slowed things down.
“We definitely need to work on free throws. I think we got lazy in the third quarter and were reaching a lot and giving up open shots. They knocked them down and had the momentum their way.”
The swing of the game was definitely in the favor of Nixyaawii in an unprecedented seven-minute stretch.
The Golden Eagles (17-13) outscored the Badgers 41-16 from 6:15 remaining in the third quarter to 7:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It was unbelievable,” Dixon said. “I haven’t seen anything like that all year. We had our hands in their faces on a couple of those, but they were still hitting them.
“You just can’t let a team like that get started. Once they start hitting they get really hot. I give credit to them.”
Powder Valley was in full control, leading 57-31 at the 6:15 mark of the third quarter.
Nixyaawii’s full-court pressure began to break down the impressive Powder offense.
Isaiah Case turned steals into three-pointers — six of them.
After dominating, the Badgers seemed lost and flustered from the defensive pressure.
“It was a learning game for us,” Powder Valley’s Jordan Pratt said. “I never get frustrated. I usually stay calm. But tonight I let my emotions get the best of me.
“I don’t think we scored for about four or five minutes. It was tough. In the first half they didn’t shoot too well, but in the second they were ready to go.”
Pratt finished with 22 points.
The Badgers led 51-29 at halftime but were outscored 49-36 in the second half.
With 7:02 remaining in regulation, Case made a pair of free throws that appeared to tie the game at 73.
But, a lane violation on the Eagles took away the second free throw and kept Powder Valley ahead.
The Badgers never surrendered the lead in the game.
“First off congratulations to Powder Valley,” Nixyaawii head coach Aaron Noisey said. “They played a heck of a game. But our kids coming in undersized and undermanned showed a lot of heart.
“Being down 22 points at halftime and coming back and making that a game, I couldn’t be any prouder of my kids. You couldn’t ask anything more from them.”
Case finished with a game-high 37 points. Curtis Sampson added 17 points.
Powder Valley was led by Trenton Dixon’s 33 points. Justin Allen and Casey Wendt each had 14.
The Badgers will play Columbia Christian Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. at Baker High School.
Powder Valley 23 28 22 14 — 87
Nixyaawii (78) — Simpson 3 1-3 7, Bettles 4 2-4 10, Crawford 2 2-4 7, Case 14 3-3 37, Sampson 7 0-0 17. Totals 30 8-14 78.
Powder Valley (87) — Pratt 11 0-0 22, Allen 6 2-3 14, Dixon 14 5-10 33, Wendt 7 0-0 14, Massingale 1 0-0 2, Brown 1 0-0 2, Kandle. Totals 40 7-13 87.
Three-point goals — Case 6, Sampson 3, Crawford.