The Prairie City Panthers knew their semifinal battle with the Nixyaawii would be a tough one, but it's likely no one anticipated the Golden Eagles' sizzling start, which led to Nixyaawii's 71-49 victory at the OSAA 1A Boys Basketball State Championship at Baker High School.
In the first 3 minutes of the contest, the Golden Eagles exploded with 3-pointers from sophomore Tyasin Burns, senior Dazon Sigo and two from junior Quanah Picard.
Meanwhile, nothing was falling for Prairie City, until senior Levi Burke sank one beyond the arc, the score 12-3.
The Golden Eagles added 13 more points in the quarter.
For the Panthers, senior Syd Holman hit 1-2 at the free-throw line, Burke added another 3-pointer off an assist from sophomore Jojari Field, and Field also landed a 3-point shot.
Nixyaawii had a 25-10 lead going into the second, but there was no backing down from either team.
Scoring went back and forth, with Burke tallying twice in the paint early followed by a 3-pointer off an assist from junior Lucas McKinley.
The high intensity play continued as Nixyaawii junior Mick Schimmel scored 2. Burke nabbed a steal from Schimmel and a short while later blocked Schimmel, but Prairie City was unable to convert on the turnovers.
Going into halftime, the Panthers trailed 39-21.
The Golden Eagles outscored the Panthers 16-14 in both the third and fourth quarters.
In the final 2 minutes, subs saw action on the court, and Prairie City junior Opie McDaniel and sophomore Brandon Horrell both scored 3-point shots. Nixyaawii sophomores Luis Ortega and Reuben Bronson also added one 3-pointer each.
The Golden Eagles hit 27 of 68 field goals with a 39.7 shooting percentage. From the 3-point range, Nixyaawii hit 10 of 27. They had 40 rebounds, nine assists and 11 steals.
The Panthers shot 16 of 56 for 28.6 percent with 8 of 29 from the 3-point range. Prairie City also had 40 rebounds with four assists and three steals.
Burke was named Moda Health Player of the Game for Prairie City with 25 points, including three 3-pointers and 4 of 7 free throws, as well as nine rebounds, three blocks and one steal.
Schimmel was named Moda Health Player of the Game for Nixyaawii with 10 points, one 3-pointer, 1-2 free throws and three assists and one steal.
Prairie City head coach Sam Workman said Nixyaawii was a challenge.
"They just played basketball — moving the ball, shooting — they did everything well," he said.
"We've been wanting to play them, and they've been wanting to play us," he added.
Prairie City stayed to watch their next competitor, which will be the Days Creek Wolves. The Wolves lost 53-40 to Trinity Lutheran.
The Panthers and Wolves will face each other at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, playing for third and fifth place.
Prairie City, seeded No. 8, has a 26-3 overall record. Days Creek is the No. 7 seed with a 22-6 overall record.
Both teams have played the Powder Valley Badgers. Prairie City won 80-66 in January, and Days Creek won 62-58 in February.
Prairie City stats
Jojari Field: 11 points (two 3-pointers, 3-4 free throws), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Levi Burke: 25 points (three 3-pointers, 4-7 free throws), 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal
Lucas McKinley: 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Syd Holman: 4 points (one 3-pointer, 1-2 free throws), 8 rebounds, 1 assist
Cole Deiter: 2 points, 11 rebounds
Opie McDaniel: 3 points (one 3-pointer)
Jayden Winegar: 1 point (1-2 free throws), 1 rebound, 1 steal
Brandon Horrell: 3 points (one 3-pointer)
Declan Zweygardt: 2 rebounds
Tyasin Burns: 15 points (two 3-pointers, 1-2 free throws), 5 rebounds, 7 steals
Quanah Picard: 14 points (two 3-pointers, 2-2 free throws), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal
Mick Schimmel: 10 points (one 3-pointer, 1-2 free throws), 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Deven Barkley: 2 points (2-2 free throws), 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Dazon Sigo: 7 points (one 3-pointer), 3 rebounds, 1 steal
Reuben Bronson: 3 points (one 3-pointer)
Moses Moses: 6 points (one 3-pointer, 1-2 free throws), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Luis Ortega: 6 points (two 3-pointers), 1 rebound
Magi Moses: 8 points, 8 rebounds