The Prairie City Panthers overcame adversity with a 66-49 win over Dufur Friday to move on to the 1A boys basketball championship tournament.

An unsportsmanlike incident almost overshadowed the Panthers’ last-second victory over the Crane Mustangs in their previous game, the district championship Feb. 16.

A Crane player was suspended from playing in the team’s next game after what Prairie City athletic director Billy Colson described as “serious trash talking” during the game.

At one point, referee Tim Boethin gathered players from both teams and said he wouldn’t tolerate any more negative comments.

Prairie City’s Syd Holman said he and a Crane player were both in the air and landed on each other. When they hit the floor, the Crane player “used the ‘hard R’ (the N-word),” Holman said.

“Emotions were running high. I’m not going to hold it against him,” Holman said, but added he had no respect for the comment.

Panther head coach Sam Workman said Crane had played “rough basketball” in previous games.

“Every time we played Crane, their kids would say stuff to try to intimidate with words,” Workman said. “There’s no defense or offense that has to do with running your mouth on a basketball court.”

Workman said sportsmanship leads to better outcomes. He said, although the incident was terrible, OSAA took care of it, and the athlete was suspended from playing in Crane’s next game.

Crane lost to Powder Valley 58-47 Feb. 19 in the first round state playoff.

Crane Superintendent Matthew Hawley said the district is using the situation as an opportunity to teach their student athletes.

“Here at Crane, we have the highest expectations of our student athletes and our fans for portraying positive sportsmanship,” he said. “I think all parties involved have the same expectations that we hold our student athletes to high standards, and we expect the best from them.”

He said OSAA’s guidelines makes it clear “it’s about respecting the game, respecting your opponent, respecting the people involved,” and the district is readdressing its expectations of students.

Hawley said, through collaboration with Prairie City school officials, he believes they have handled the situation in an appropriate manner and are “continuing to do so.”

Colson said the Prairie City athletes handled the situation well.

“Lots of kids — everyone — makes mistakes,” Colson said. “I’m glad to see that both schools seem to be moving on from it.”

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at angel@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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