This was for you, Dr. Naismith

Written by Barrett Henderson, The Observer February 28, 2009 10:23 am

The father of basketball would have been happy to have seen his creation in North Powder.

If you were not one of the 800 to 900 people crammed into the Powder Valley High School gymnasium Friday night, then you missed the game of the season.

You missed the closest re-creation to the movie classic “Hoosiers”.

You missed one of the greatest – almost – comebacks.

You simply missed out...

It’s hard to put into words the instant classic that took place between the Powder Valley and Nixyaawii boys basketball teams.

It was the kind of game that you didn’t have to be supporting either team.

You didn’t have to be a member of either community.

You didn’t have to be an alumnus of either school.

If you were human, you would have had a good time.

The atmosphere was magical. I left La Grande knowing the Badgers Cracker-Jack box gym would fill up quickly. I was correct.

As I pulled up 40 minutes prior to the tip-off a line was stretched down the sidewalk full of fans waiting to get in.

There was a feeling in the air. It wasn’t the 20- degree weather freezing the fans outside. No, it was a feeling that this game was not going to be what it said on paper.

Powder Valley entered as one of the state’s best teams led by three of the finest players in the state.

Nixyaawii was short and relied heavily on its shooting.

The Golden Eagles were a team that lost to the Old Oregon League’s last place team, Pine Eagle, earlier in the season.

The Badgers got up early in the game and seemed in cruise control for Baker City and the state’s final eight.

That’s when Nixyaawii began hitting its outside shots over and over. The Eagles defense stifled the powerful Badger offense.

As the margin got closer, the crowds got louder.

There was not the usual bickering at referees. The noise was solely for spirit.

As Powder Valley pulled away at the end of the game, the Nixyaawii fans never gave up. Neither did its team.

After the game I saw something I rarely see. Powder Valley fans waiting and then shaking the hands of Eagle players.

I’m not saying that there are no other fans out there who do this or that Powder Valley has the best fans.

I’d just like to applaud every fan who was there, even the ones that stood in the hallway with the view of only the scoreboard.

This was basketball at its finest.

The band, the regular sized uniforms, the chicken-wire safety rail on the upper-deck — all that was missing was peach baskets.

Thank you to the teams, the coaches and the fans. It was the best game I have seen this season.

I am proud I was there.


Barrett Henderson is sports writer for The Observer. Reach him by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it