The Prairie City Panther boys sealed their first 1A High Desert League championship title in 11 years with their 72-51 win over the Crane Mustangs Saturday in Prairie City.
“It got pretty loud at the end,” said Panther head coach Sam Workman, who is in his first year leading the Prairie City team.
“It was a close game until about halfway through the fourth quarter,” Workman said. “We just went ahead and beat them by 21.”
The Panthers, ranked No. 10 among OSAA’s 1A teams, finished undefeated at 10-0 in league play.
Looking ahead to this week’s 1A-8 High Desert District Tournament, Workman said they’ll have to continue playing good defense.
“The farther you go, the more competitive defenses you’re going to see, and have to have,” he said. “I hope they continue doing what they’re doing.”
Prairie City senior Dorran Wilson said it was their goal to be league champions.
“I’m glad we did it,” he said. “All around, it was a good season, and we’re not done yet.”
Wilson said the Jordan Valley Mustangs were their biggest challenge this season. The team, with a 9-1 league record, will likely be the Panthers’ toughest competitor this week.
“I just look forward to seeing everybody step up (at the tournament),” Wilson said. “The freshmen have stepped up, and I’ll be looking to see how they respond in the big games when it’s win or go home.”
On Friday, Prairie City notched another league win in Dayville, on their way to an undefeated season.
The Monument/Dayville Tigers scored first in what was their second matchup this season with Prairie City, but the Panthers scored last as Wilson lobbed the alley-oop pass to junior Levi Burke for the dunk with 8 seconds left in the game.
The young Tiger team was overwhelmed by Prairie City, losing 65-23.
The Panthers beat the Tigers 75-29 the last time they met on Jan. 6 in Prairie City. The Panthers have an older and taller team, while the Tigers start four freshmen.
“They’re very tough,” Tiger coach Jeff Schafer said. “We’re young and inexperienced.”
Wilson had 13 points against the Tigers, including one 3-pointer. Wilson played part of the game under the boards, filling in for junior Syd Holman, who was recovering from an illness. Holman later joined his teammates on the court and tallied 4 points.
Burke led the Panthers with 16 points. Sophomore Lucas McKinley had 13 points, including a 3-pointer. Freshmen Jojari Field and Tristan McMahon each had 5 points, including a 3-pointer apiece.
Field’s 3-pointer early in the game gave the Panthers an 11-2 lead. The Tigers scored next, but it was their last basket in the half, which ended 40-4. The Monument/Dayville boys put up a scrappy defense, but they couldn’t get the ball to drop in the entire second quarter. Workman played his first string through much of the first half, but they suffered from bad passes and turnovers that the Tigers couldn’t capitalize on.
The Tigers scored again at the 6-minute mark in the third quarter, making it 44-6. Both teams played the bench in the last half of the third quarter, which ended 54-14 with the Panthers maintaining their 40-point lead. With 3:22 left in the fourth quarter, Workman put his starters back on the court to finish the game.
Freshman Donovan Schafer, who put up the first basket in the game, led the Tigers with 8 points. Freshman Mark Thomas tallied 5 points, including a 3-pointer. Freshman Drew Wilburn had 4, freshmen JT Hand and DJ Howell each had 2 points and sophomore Rafael Dualibi had 2 points.
Prairie City will compete at the district tournament at Grant Union Junior-Senior High School at 2:45 p.m. Friday, facing the winner of Thursday’s game between Monument/Dayville and Adrian, which is set for 8:45 p.m.
The top three teams advance to state competition.