The Prairie City boys basketball team pulled out a narrow 54-52 victory over Days Creek in the first round of the state tournament Saturday.

The Panthers, just as they have done in the past, were able to buckle down late in the game and make the right plays, make the right runs and get the necessary stops to emerge victoriously.

“Basketball is a game of runs, and we went on a couple of runs that made the difference tonight,” head coach Bo Workman said. “They played tough and they came through tonight.”

Senior Lucas McKinley said the defense made a huge difference in the game.

“We stayed on their shooters,” he said.

The Panthers held the Wolves to just 5 points in the second period.

For his part, senior Cole Deiter blocked five shots and had two steals, while sophomore Marcus Judd blocked a shot and had six rebounds.

With a late run by the Wolves in the fourth quarter nearly costing the Panthers the game, a 3-point jumper by McKinley and field goals by Deiter and Judd allowed the Panthers to escape with the win.

“We had the heart and the determination to win in the end,” Deiter said. “We have all been playing together for years, and we have great team chemistry.”

Junior Jojari Field said the Panthers knew Days Creek would be a challenge.

“We knew it was going to be a fight to the finish,” he said.

Workman said the teams from here on out will be harder and harder to beat.

“They will just keep getting better and better,” he said.

Deiter, Judd and McKinley combined for 45 points in the win.

Next up, the Panthers will move on to the quarterfinals of the state tournament and face Crosshill Christian in Baker City on March. 5. Tip off is at 6:30 p.m.

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Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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