By Paul Harder
The (La Grande) Observer
Sibling rivalry has been around since the beginning of time. Thankfully the battle in North Powder is nothing like Cain and Abel's fight.
Logan Allen, Marcus Pratt and Chace Dixon drug their feet as long as they could, but the three seniors will finally make that return trip to Baker City for the Class 1A state basketball tournament Thursday. The Badgers will take on Ione at 8:15 p.m.
"We've been dreaming a long time for this," Pratt said. "All of us wanted it really bad. It was our only focus this season."
That dream started back in 2009, when Allen, Pratt and Dixon were sitting in the stands watching their older brothers batter the bracket en route to a state title. Along with now freshman Seth Dixon, the second wave of Badger brothers is trying to bring home another state title.
Trenton Dixon was a unanimous all-tournament pick as a sophomore for the championship team. Senior Jordan Pratt was also an all-tournament first-team selection, and Justin Allen was a second-team selection. The Badgers defeated Mohawk 73-59 in the 2009 championship game.
"I'll never forget that moment," Trenton Dixon said. "It was a battle against the teams from the other side of the state. To be able to bring home a championship with so many people from North Powder and the surrounding communities was pretty amazing.
"I hope Chace, Seth, Marcus and Logan all havea chance to at least play for a title. And, of course, I'd love to see them win it."
This season Powder Valley cruised through the regular season with just one loss, falling to Imbler, en route to a 22-1 record. The Badgers earned the No. 2 ranking in the state behind Horizon Christian.
During the Badgers' title run in 2009, Powder Valley finished with a similar record - 22-2. The toughest opponent will also be the same foe - Columbia Christian. But, if this year's Badgers team is going to play the Knights, it won't be in the championship game. Columbia Christian drew the No. 3 seed. That put the Knights on the same side of the bracket as the Badgers. Powder Valley's closest game in 2009 was a 57-45 win against Columbia Christian in the opening round.
This year despite the Knights being the No. 3 seed, they're considered a tournament favorite. Columbia Christian finished the season 22-5, but lost to schools in upper classifications from Washington, California and Alabama. The only loss to an Oregon school was a 62-60 loss to Class 6A Benson. The Knights have a pair of 6-foot-8 players bound for NCAA Division I schools. Kameron Chatman is headed to Michigan, while Arkaydi Mykrtychyan is headed to Idaho.
Trenton Dixon said it will be a tough battle for his younger brothers' team. But he also thinks that the team Powder Valley has this season is built stronger than the one that won the title.
"They've got a really balanced team," Dixon said. "When I played we had the big three - myself, Jordan and Justin. There were a couple other players that would help out. But the team this season is so deep. You never know who is going to be the high scorer on the team."
Powder Valley is led by Marcus Pratt at the point running a fast-paced offensive attack. Jordan Pratt did most of his work in the paint, while Marcus is more comfortable outside. Logan Allen emerged as a great scoring option from 14-feet out. His ability, along with Brock Jones, to hit the mid-range shot spreads out the floor.
"That was kind of the thing we didn't have," Dixon said. "We could score in the paint, and outside. But when you can hit from anywhere, it makes it tough to stop an offense."
Chace Dixon is dangerous from outside as well, but for a 5-11 guard, he isn't afraid to go inside and battle for rebounds. Seth is a tenacious defender off the bench, who is still developing his offense game.
"It's a lot of fun to watch this group play as a team," Trenton Dixon said. "They can beat other teams in so many ways."
Marcus Pratt knows the road to a title will be a tall task, but it's that sibling rivalry that might give Powder Valley the edge.
"I want to have a title just like Jordan," Pratt said. "He's got that on me, and I want to take that away. We're going to leave it all out on the floor, because we don't have a chance to come back again."