Philomath High School’s girls basketball team hasn’t played a lot of close games this season. The Warriors defeated 11 opponents and 10 of those victories came by 20 or more points. The formula has worked time after time with transition points, good shooting, effective defense and go-to players that can put up exceptional numbers.
Corbett disrupted that formula early on in Tuesday’s opening game of the 4A Showcase Final 8 tournament, this short season’s version of a state playoff. The Warriors trailed by six points going into the second quarter. But Philomath settled down, started hitting shots, frustrated Corbett’s offense and ended up rolling to a 73-41 victory.
“Corbett came out with a lot of energy and shot the ball well to start,” PHS coach Ben Silva said. “We didn’t quite have the energy that we needed for four quarters. I don’t know if it was nerves, or a little bit of a wake-up call.”
The opening minute looked like business as usual with junior Sage Kramer hitting a jumper and then scoring on a layup after stealing the ball at midcourt. But the Cardinals responded with a 14-2 run to temporarily put Philomath on its heels.
Senior Mia Rust, who had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, said the slow start served a purpose.
“We underestimated them for sure,” she said. “We watched a lot of film and I personally underestimated them. I think that’s what got us in the beginning of the game — we just weren’t ready to come out strong.”
Sage Kramer, who also had a double-double with 34 points and 11 rebounds, said the team just needed to take a step back and refocus.
“We had to just come out and play like how we play,” Kramer said. “We can’t just come in and overlook this team. We can’t just think, ‘oh, we’re going to win.’ We have to actually focus on defense, we have to hustle around and make plays.”
And that’s what transpired over the final three quarters. Corbett maintained its six-point lead at 21-15 with 5:45 left in the first half before Philomath started to take control. Kramer hit a jumper and then buried a 3-pointer just 34 seconds apart to cut the Cardinals’ lead down to 21-20. Then with 4:16 left in the half, Kramer scored on a putback for a 22-21 Warriors lead.
Rust followed with a fast-break hoop, K Bacho nailed a jump shot and Kramer came away with a steal and a hoop for a 28-21 advantage. The two teams traded baskets the rest of the way, Corbett hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Warriors led 33-26 at the break.
“We talked about trying to attack the hoop and get some easy looks at the bucket but sometimes we have a tendency to settle for jump shots early,” Silva said and Philomath’s early struggles. “Once we got the ball inside, we were able to get some easy looks and then the outside shots started to fall.”
Kramer caused fits for Corbett in the first half by scoring 24 of her 34 points.
“I think it was good to have it in this game, rather than in a championship game when we can’t battle back,” she said about the slow start.
After those opening 8 minutes, Philomath looked more like Philomath.
Said Rust, “We regrouped at halftime and we came out, didn’t underestimate them and played how we play basketball.”
Philomath outscored the visitors 25-7 in the third quarter to pull away for good. Rust was especially potent with 15 of her 20 points coming in the second half.
“Even when we’re down, I always feel like I have Mia Rust in our back pocket,” Silva said. “She’s a gamer, she’s going to give it her all. … She’s the heart of this team — everybody follows her.”
The game came to a halt midway through the third quarter as officials sorted through an issue involving a Corbett player’s uniform number change. The result was a technical foul against the Cardinals and Rust hit both free throws.
In fact, Rust was 8 of 9 from the foul line for the evening.
Freshman guard Ella Holwege scored 15 to lead Corbett, which ends the season at 9-4.
Top-seeded Philomath (12-1) advances to the tournament’s semifinals against fifth-seeded Valley Catholic, a 51-42 winner Tuesday night over Cottage Grove. Valley Catholic comes into the game with a 10-1 record and riding a seven-game winning streak.
The other semifinal will feature No. 2-seeded Hidden Valley against No. 3-seeded La Grande. Hidden Valley defeated Junction City, 56-31, while La Grande rolled over Madras, 82-54.
“There’s four teams at this point in time and they’re all good,” Silva said. “I think any one of the four have the opportunity to win two more games. We’ll start with the first one on Thursday and hopefully we’ll get that one and put ourselves in a great position. There’s a lot of talent in this final eight group.”
Thursday’s PHS game is scheduled to tip-off at 1 p.m. at North Bend High School. If the Warriors win, the team will play in Friday’s championship game at noon at Marshfield High School. If they lose, the team would play in the third-place game at noon Friday at North Bend.
Philomath 73, Corbett 41
Tuesday, June 22, at Philomath HS
|22-Isabell Van Hee#||4||1-4||4||9|
|3-Point Goals: Corbett 5 (E. Holwege 4, Schimel), Philomath 4 (Kramer 3, Couture)|
Fouled Out: None
Total Fouls: Corbett 11, Philomath 10
Technicals: Corbett (illegal uniform number change)
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