NORTH POWDER — Fans got their money's worth during Tuesday’s Old Oregon League showdown between two teams that were not only undefeated in league play, but happened to be the top two scoring teams in 1A boys basketball.
Nixyaawii’s dynamic guards, though, powered the defending champion Golden Eagles past the high-flying Badgers.
Tyasin Burns poured in 38 points, Mick Schimmel added 24, and the defending state champions used a key second half run to distance itself and on the way to an 83-72 win in North Powder.
“I know they’re a good team, and they’ve always been a good team,” Powder Valley head coach Kyle Dixon said. “Those two guards had a heck of a game, and I give all the credit to them. They came out and had a good game against us. I don’t think we responded well.”
The contest seesawed back and forth most of the first half, with Nixyaawii often pulling ahead by eight or nine points before Powder Valley blitzed its way back into the game.
Even early in the third, when the Golden Eagles opened up what was at the time their largest lead at 50-38 on Burns’ 3-point play, the Badgers responded. Roper Bingham’s 3-point play, a 3-pointer by Cole Martin and two technical foul free throws by Martin after one of three techs called during the contest pulled Powder Valley within 50-46 with 4:15 to play in the third.
But an 18-2 run that bled into the fourth quarter — one that saw Burns score the first nine points of the fourth quarter — extended the Nixyaawii lead to 68-48, and the Badgers got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Burns, with an array of teardrop floaters, layups and a few jumpers, scored 17 points in the period to help the Golden Eagles stay in front.
“I thought we turned the ball over a little too much, missed some easy layups,” Dixon said. “We could have probably been right there in it. First time we faced them. You didn’t know what to expect. Now we know.”
The Badgers were hurt by turnovers, as they gave the ball away 23 times in the contest.
The Badgers, who entered Tuesday’s game as the top-scoring team in 1A, raced out to the early first-quarter lead, going up as much as 20-15 late in the first when Ethan Stephens hit the Badgers’ fourth 3-pointer of the quarter with 1:21 to play.
Nixyaawii charged back to take a 21-20 lead after one on a late floater by Burns and built as much as a nine-point lead in a second quarter that saw Schimmel drop 17 points and hit his first three 3-pointers. The lead reached 39-30 before Kaden Krieger’s short bucket in the key, Reece Dixon’s fastbreak layup and Bingham’s jumper — all in the span of a minute — trimmed the deficit to three before Nixyaawii took a 43-36 lead into the half.
“Roper stepped up for us. My freshman that came in, Cole, I thought he played good, and Moziss played good — we just gotta work a little bit on defense on stopping their guards,” the Powder Valley coach said.
Bingham finished with 21 points and seven rebounds for the Badgers to lead three players in double figures. Dominick Grende added 15 points, and Reece Dixon had 11 points.
The Badgers (16-5 overall, 8-1 OOL) host La Grande Saturday.