Nixyaawii raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, then left no doubt in beating Prairie City 71-49 in the 1A state semifinal Friday afternoon at Baker High School.
“We came out shooting pretty well,” Nixyaawii coach Shane Rivera said. “We wanted to play an uptempo game. They don’t really play anyone off the bench. We have more depth on our bench, and that is to our benefit.”
The Golden Eagles (27-2) will play Trinity Lutheran at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship game. The Saints beat Days Creek 53-40 in the other semifinal game. The Wolves saw their 16-game win streak come to an end.
The Panthers (26-3), making just their second appearance at state in more than 20 years, will play Days Creek in the third/fifth-place game.
Nixyaawii is in the finals for the second time in school history. In 2015, they lost the championship game to Country Christian 61-53.
“That team was faster, and we had smaller guards and one post player,” Rivera said of his 2015 team. “This year, there are comparables. They could shoot like we can, but we are more balanced in size. Both are good teams.”
The Golden Eagles scored their first 12 points off four 3-pointers. Nixyaawii had leads of 16-4 and 22-10 in the first, and Mick Schimmel finished off the quarter with a 3-pointer for a 25-10 lead.
The two teams played pretty even the rest of the way, but the Panthers never could erase the big deficit from the first quarter.
“They were bigger, but we went man and helped out down under,” Rivera said. “Team help on defense is important, and we do a really good job. We each had 40 rebounds, which is super important.”
Tyasin Burns led the Golden Eagles with 15 points and seven steals, while Quamah Picard added 14 points, and Schimmel 10 points and 12 rebounds. All but one Nixyaawii player scored.
The Golden Eagles got 23 points off the bench, while the Panthers had seven.
“We needed everything from everyone,” Rivera said. “The points just go to show how balanced of a team we have. Mick leads us in scoring, but Moses (Moses) has been hot, as have others. You will have success if you are willing to share the ball.”
Nixyaawii beat the Panthers at the their own game, going inside for 28 points. Prairie City, which features 6-foot-4 Levi Burke and 6-5 Cole Deiter, had just 12 points in the paint.
Burke finished with a game-high 25 points, and had three 3-pointers, while Deiter was held to two points and 11 rebounds.