MISSION — It is easy to see how increased offensive depth has the Nixyaawii boys basketball team looking like a postseason contender.
No longer needing to rely on star guard Mick Schimmel to carry the offense, the Golden Eagles have reaped the benefits of players such as Deven Barkley, Quanah Picard and Dazan Sigo stepping in and stepping up to help spark the hot start. That depth was put to the test on Friday night, and the Golden Eagles passed. Barely.
Nixyaawii overcame foul trouble and another ice cold shooting night as they pulled out a 53-51 victory over Powder Valley on Friday night for the Golden Eagles’ fourth consecutive victory. Powder Valley had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a 3-pointer by Tanner Eubanks clanked off the backboard and rim to seal the win for Nixyaawii.
“We’re for sure relieved,” Nixyaawii coach Shane Rivera said. “It’s nice to get a win and it keeps us atop of the league right now. Powder’s a good team and it’s nice to come out on top even when we didn’t play our best.”
The Golden Eagles (11-2 overall, 4-0 Old Oregon League) shot just 31 percent (21-of-67) in the game, including numerous attempts from close-range and wide-open jumpers. Schimmel finished with 14 points as he was the primary focus of the Badgers’ defense with numerous doubleteams throughout. And Picard and Barkley, who have been the Golden Eagles’ No. 2 and No. 3 scoring threats, combined for just seven points as both battled foul trouble in the first and second half.
But that brought out big performances from the likes of Sigo and senior Noah Enright when their team needed them the most. Enright scored a huge 14 points and played solid defense, while Sigo scored 10 including a pair of key 3-pointers.
“It just feels amazing,” Enright said of his game. “When you’re hot, you gotta keep shooting and I felt good out in that game.”
Added Rivera, “They each had their moments for sure and we needed that. To be competitive at the end of the season, we need everybody to step up and we can’t be relying on one or two guys. Obviously it’s nice to have those one or two, but when they’re off you need guys that are capable and we do have guys that are capable.”
After a slow first quarter that saw the Golden Eagles trailing 11-8, they battled through the shooting woes to take a 21-17 lead into the halftime break. After halftime, it was Powder Valley (7-4, 2-1) that made the first move to take a 22-21 lead before the Golden Eagles took it right back and then started to find a groove. Nixyaawii outscored the Powder Valley 17-8 over the final 6:30 of the third quarter, and carried that momentum into the fourth where they built a lead as large as 13 points at 43-30 just 30 seconds into the final frame.
However, the Badgers were not done. They turned up their defensive pressure and locked in their offense to go on a 13-4 run to get the game within four points at 47-43 with just 4:43 left.
Eventually the Badgers wittled the lead to three points at 53-50 and drove down the court with 20 seconds remaining and a chance to get closer or tie the game. The Badgers missed a pair of 3-pointers but got offensive rebounds on both, later setting up what looked like a 3-point shot attempt in the corner by Omar Benites with under five seconds left and then controversy ensued.
As Benites rose for the shot, he was fouled by Enright which seemingly gave Benites a chance to tie the game with three free throw attempts. However, one of the two game officials, positioned under the basket on the baseline, ruled that Benites’ foot was on the 3-point line which meant it was a two-shot foul rather than a three-shot foul, much to the displeasure of the Powder Valley faithful.
Benites made the first and intentionally missed the second, which was rebounded by a teammate and kicked out to Eubanks for the final shot, which bounced the Golden Eagles’ way.
“It wasn’t great, but it just feels amazing the way our team came together,” Enright said. “It was a good win.”
PV 11 6 13 21 — 51
NCS 8 13 19 13 — 53
POWDER VALLEY — D. Smith 18, H. Davis 9, M. Nesser 8, O. Benites 6, T. Eubanks 5, R. BIngham 5.
NIXYAAWII — N. Enright 14, M. Schimmel 14, D. Sigo 10, D. Barkley 6, Ma. Moses 4, W. Oatman 3, Q. Picard 1.
3-pointers — PV 5, NCS 6. Free throws — PV 6-16, NCS 4-11. Fouls — PV 15, NCS 15.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.