The Prairie City boys basketball team closed out a successful season last school year, reaching the second-round state playoff match.
The Panthers are right back at it, hopeful for another shot at a bright postseason.
Dorran Wilson, the sole senior among the 12 players, has a deeply vested interest in the team.
“We started working on this program my freshman year,” he said. “It’s exciting to see it all coming together.”
Wilson and junior Levi Burke were two of the team’s top players last year, frequently scoring in double digits.
“I’m looking forward to winning because we have a good brotherhood started,” Burke said. “We’ve got some new kids who are going to bring something to the plate.”
The team’s new head coach this year is Sam Workman. This is Workman’s first year coaching high school basketball, and he brings years of experience working with youth programs. He was an assistant junior high girls coach the last two years for Prairie City. He’s also coached John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation basketball and football for eight years and Little League baseball the last four years.
Six freshmen players are joining the varsity ranks this year, plus two sophomores, and three juniors.
Workman said his goal is “to get as much out of those guys as we can every night ... and have fun.” Right now, the team is working on rigorous full-court drills to get them into shape and offense and defense moves.
He’s already seeing strengths in the individual players. Team captain Wilson, the coach said, has “all the strengths for the game.”
Bringing some height for rebounding are Burke, junior Syd Holman and freshman Declan Zweygardt.
“Levi shoots from the inside and outside,” Workman said. “Syd is quick off the floor, a good rebounder and good inside shooter. Declan is young, but he’s a tough kid.”
Workman, who is assisted by his brother Bo Workman who coaches the girls varsity team, said being from a small school is a positive factor for their team.
“They all interact well with each other,” he said. “They should be tough. We have a little bit of everything on the court.”
The bottom line is, “everybody stays healthy,” Sam Workman added.
Last school year, the Panthers ended the season 16-8, ranked No. 18.
They were second at the 1A-8 High Desert District Tournament and won the Sportsmanship Award.
Prairie City claimed a 62-32 victory over the Echo Cougars in the round-one state playoff game in Prairie City last season, then they faced Hosanna Christian, ranked No. 3, at the second-round game in Klamath Falls, where the Lions won 55-33.
Preseason this year starts on the road Dec. 1 at the South Wasco Tournament in Maupin.
After two more tournaments on the road, the Panthers will host the Powder Valley Badgers at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 in Prairie City.
The Panthers’ league opponents include Jordan Valley, Crane, Adrian, Monument/Dayville, Harper, Huntington and Burnt River.
Workman said he expects their toughest competition to come from Jordan Valley and Crane.
“You can’t underestimate any of them,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re considered one of the stronger ones.”
Prairie City boys basketball schedule
Dec. 1: @ South Wasco Tourney vs. Trout Lake in Maupin at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 2: @ South Wasco Tourney vs. TBA in Maupin
Dec. 8: @ Condon Christmas Tournament vs. Ione in Condon at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 9: @ Condon Christmas Tournament vs. Condon/Wheeler in Condon at 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: @ Triad Tourney vs. Powers in Klamath Falls at 5:15 p.m.
Dec. 15: @ Triad Tourney vs. Triad in Klamath Falls at 8:15 p.m.
Dec. 16: @ Triad Tourney vs. Pacific in Klamath Falls at 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: vs. Powder Valley in Prairie City at 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: Alumni game in Prairie City at 6 p.m.
Jan. 2: @ Ukiah/Long Creek JV in Ukiah at 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 6: vs. Monument/Dayville in Prairie City at 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: @ Crane at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13: @ Harper at 3:30 p.m. (MST)
Jan. 16: vs. Burnt River at 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: vs. Four Rivers JV at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20: @ Adrian at 3:30 p.m. (MST)
Jan 26: vs. Jordan Valley at 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 27: @ Huntington at 3:30 p.m.
Feb. 2: vs. Ukiah/Long Creek JV at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3: @ Burnt River in Unity at 3:30 p.m.
Feb. 9: @ Monument/Dayville in Dayville at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10: vs. Crane at 3:30 p.m.
Feb. 15: 1A-8 High Desert District Tournament in John Day