It didn’t take long for Nixyaawii to claim the game over Ione on Friday.
The Golden Eagles scored a resounding 79-32 win to ring in day one of Echo’s Bouncin’ Cancer Tournament — an invite that raises money for families of cancer patients in Umatilla County.
“We’re fundamentally a stronger team all-around,” said Nixyaawii coach Shane Rivera. “I can’t say we were faster — Ione has speed — but our kids probably have a little more experience.”
Ione brought the pressure to open the game, keeping within one point of the Golden Eagles for the opening 4 1/2 minutes. But Nixyaawii hit a 10-point streak at the end of the first quarter to leave Ione in the dust.
Junior Mick Schimmel, who posted a game-high 20 points, sank two straight shots from the inside for a 32-15 halftime lead.
But it was in the second half that the game really got away from the Cardinals. Nixyaawii scored 19 points and only allowed four in the third quarter. Schimmel scored six points, including two on a turnover early on. The Golden Eagles took a 51-19 advantage by the end of the quarter.
“I think we just got ourselves together and realized what we had to do to win,” said Schimmel, a 6-foot guard, on his team’s second half. “We just ran from there.”
The fourth quarter was Ione’s strongest — the Cardinals fought their way into double digits for 13 points, including four from sophomore Hunter Padberg. But Nixyaawii still dominated with 28 points in the game’s final eight minutes. Sophomore Reuben Bronson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the Golden Eagles’ game on a high note.
Nixyaawii (9-1) will face Echo to close the tourney before opening the Old Oregon League on Jan. 4.
“This was an easy win for us,” Schimmel said. “Games like this help us sharpen and execute our plays before going into the league.”
Sophomore Tyasin Burns followed Schimmel in scoring with 18 points. Senior Nestor Ramirez had seven for Ione (1-8, 0-3), which will play Pine Eagle on Saturday to close out the Echo tourney.