Damascus — Sometimes you need a good test from a underrated opponent to get you prepped for state, and the Prairie City Panthers certainly did that to Damascus Christian on Saturday night. For a good while, it honestly appeared like the Panthers might pull off an upset and punch their ticket to Baker City. However, the Eagles pulled it together and managed to knock off the upset hungry Prairie City Panthers. This tight game is exactly what Damascus Christian needed to get prepared for what awaits them at Baker this week.
Let’s knock something out of the way: Prairie City’s Betty Ann Wilson is a very skilled guard, and she tested the Eagles in every facet of the game as a point guard, even with pursuing for rebounds. This not only knocked down Damascus Christian, but it forced them to scramble the plan on the fly, as Wilson started to utilize teammates like Kaitlynne Ashley, Jaycee Winegar, and Laken McKay to help aid her attack on the Eagles. This was the perfect test: Could Damascus Christian adjust to an underrated, unknown opponent that was punching them in the face? Emily Powers, Sierra Hale, Laelie Rasmussen, and the rest of the Eagles accepted it wholeheartedly.
The main trio had huge games on offense, presenting an inside-out presence that was barreling the Panthers and returning punches that they were taking on the other end. It also needs to be noted that two freshmen, Ava Mai and Ayla Pontius, stepped up in the third quarter to help the Eagles gain some breathing room. On defense, they put up some walls in the paint and forced Prairie City to rely on lower percentage shots and free throws. Damascus Christian frustrated Wilson and forced her to rely on her teammates, limiting her impact on the game down the stretch and rolling the dice, which ultimately paid off with a ticket to Baker City.
As Damascus Christian will learn this week, their opponents only get rougher and it starts from the get-go. The Eagles have a simpler pairing to start the state tournament with Trout Lake, but North Douglas likely sits in their future as the opponent for the semifinals. The Warriors are a boa constrictor: They suffocate you on defense and turn it into a blowout on the scoreboard, the perfect pairing for a team that isn’t used to that kind of pressure on each possession. After them, only the hoops fates know who possibly awaits them, but it won’t be any easier regardless. The Eagles needed the test with Prairie City, it was a shot of humility and a reminder that the road isn’t easy, but it is a glimpse of what the Eagles might come back to Damascus with on Saturday.