More often than not, the Nixyaawii boys make easy work of their opponents on the court, and Saturday night was no different.
The Golden Eagles sent visiting Imbler packing in a 71-37 Old Oregon League contest.
“We got things going right out the gate,” said junior guard Mick Schimmel. “We’ve all known each other for years and have been playing together for a long time. We just have that chemistry.”
Schimmel, who led the Golden Eagles with 21 points for the night, posted 12 of his team’s 19 points in the first quarter, including an eight-point streak to open play. Meanwhile, the Panthers managed just six.
Nixyaawii went on to keep Imbler away from the net for 6 1/2 straight minutes in the second quarter while they knocked down 17 points, six of which came from junior guard Quanah Picard.
Junior Jayce Burnette finally got the Panthers back on track with a bucket and a pair of treys in the final minute before Nixyaawii ended the half up 39-14.
“Defensively, we were tough in the first half,” said coach Shane Rivera. “And we shot the ball well from the outside before we moved into the paint. We gave their defense a lot of trouble.”
The Panthers came out of the locker room ready to fight back, posting their game-high 13 points in the third quarter against Nixyaawii’s 18. Burnette scored 10 of those points.
“He was smart,” Schimmel said of Burnette. “And he knew how to screen well. He was a strong player, and hard to lock down.”
Imbler fell just short of the Golden Eagles in the final 8 minutes with a 12-9 run. Nixyaawii was forced into a scoring drought for the first 3 minutes, and Burnette managed another trey at the 2-minute mark.
“Most teams will give us their best effort because of our rank and reputation,” Rivera said. “For our team, it might have been harder to keep that focus going in the second half when you know you already have the upper hand.”
Sophomore guard Moses Moses posted 14 points with four 3-pointers for Nixyaawii, and Schimmel was 8 of 9 from the field.
The No. 1 Golden Eagles (20-2, 10-0 OOL) travel to Elgin on Friday.
For Nixyaawii, Saturday’s game was best played in the opening and closing minutes.
The girls left the Imbler Panthers in the dust in the first half, but barely held onto their advantage until the final 3 minutes, where they hit a vital run to put the Old Oregon League game away 53-37.
“We played great for the majority of the game,” said coach Jeremy Maddern.
“But we had a bad third quarter with too many turnovers and issues with our execution. (Imbler) did a good job of picking up their defense. I’m proud of how our kids responded in the end.”
The Golden Eagles kept their distance with a 27-9 advantage until 2:34 in the second quarter, when Panthers senior guard Caysie McGinness came to life, scoring two treys and three at the free-throw line to start her team’s comeback.
McGinness drained two more 3-pointers in the third quarter to pull within one point of the lead, but Nixyaawii senior post Ermia Butler scored a field goal to keep her team out front.
McGinness knocked down one more point at the line at the end of the quarter to help Imbler outscore Nixyaawii 13-6.
“We knew she was going to be tough,” Maddern said of McGinness. “We had to switch up our defense to slow her scoring and hold her down.”
And they did just that — McGinness didn’t score once in the fourth quarter, and Nixyaawii hit a 12-point streak to close the out game.
“I don’t like to set expectations before a game,” Butler said after the win.
“Any team could give us a close game. We were getting a little frustrated with ourselves, and we knew we had to pick up the pace. We overcame (Imbler) as a team.”
Junior guard Lark Moses led Nixyaawii with 17 points and five 3-pointers. Butler followed with 13.
The Panthers got all but 10 of their points from McGinness.