Tyasin Burns surprised everyone on Friday night.
The 5-foot-8 sophomore guard broke Nixyaawii out of a tight first half to drive them to their season’s first league win against the visiting Powder Valley Badgers, 83-52.
Burns shot 13 of 14 from the field for 33 points, and added four defensive rebounds and four assists.
“He usually has a pass-first kind of mentality,” said Golden Eagles coach Shane Rivera. “This was a breakout offensive game for him.”
Nixyaawii struggled to stay ahead in the first quarter, giving up the lead three times, but rallied for a 34-26 lead at the half. Burns dominated the court in the third, posting 16 points to put away the Badgers for good.
“I’m excited. This feels great,” Burns said. “Once I hit the first shot, I felt it. I felt the rhythm. I just kept shooting.”
It was anyone’s game in the first half. Badgers freshman guard Reece Dixon helped his team tie up the game three times, and junior center Roper Bingham hit four straight points to leave Nixyaawii trailing 8-4 with 4:31 to go.
“Powder is going to be one of the better teams in the league,” Rivera said. “Tonight’s score isn’t indicative of their ability — we just played good.”
Nixyaawii led by just six points in the third quarter before Burns took matters into his own hands, scoring 11 points in under two minutes. He sunk five more in under a minute before the buzzer ended the quarter, giving the Golden Eagles a 65-41 lead — their game’s greatest advantage.
“We talk about this all the time: if someone’s got it going, you best give ‘em the ball,” Rivera said of Burns’ hot second half. “He was confident in himself, and so was his team. He knows he has the skills to bring it. It’s his turn.”
Burns would drop one more in from outside the paint in the fourth quarter before Rivera sent his bench in to finish off the game.
Nixyaawii (1-0, 11-1) hosts Wallowa on Saturday for their second Old Oregon League matchup. They took the top spot in the league last season, and Rivera hopes to do it again.
“I like our chances going into the league,” he said. “Our reputation is being one of the best in the OOL. Everyone is going to give us their best game. We’re a contender, for sure.”
The Nixyaawii girls came close, but couldn’t match Powder Valley’s intensity.
The Badgers sent them away with a 38-30 loss to open Old Oregon League play on Friday night.
“Powder Valley is a top-five team in the state,” said Nixyaawii coach Jeremy Maddern. “So, I thought we played really well. We handled their press great for as young as we are, and we were physical with them.”
After trailing 16-6 at the half, Golden Eagles junior guard Lark Moses hit two straight 3’s, and senior post Ermia Butler scored a bucket to pull within two points of the Badgers.
But Powder Valley outscored them 16-13 in the fourth quarter to hold them off for good.
“We have a lot of fundamental work to do,” Maddern said. “We have a lot of kids playing without varsity experience. This will do us some good. We’ve made great progress since the preseason.”
Butler led Nixyaawii (0-1, 7-5) with 14 points. They’ll host Wallowa on Saturday.