PHS junior Preston Kramer was one of three players to hit double figures for the Warriors in Thursday’s 50-49 loss to Cascade. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Cascade withstood a furious second-half comeback by Philomath on Thursday night on its home court in an Oregon West battle between the top two ranked boys basketball teams in Class 4A. A late free throw turned out to be the difference in a 50-49 final.

The win gives Cascade first place in the conference at the halfway point in the league schedule. Philomath lost against a 4A opponent for the first time since the 62-61 loss to Seaside in last year’s state tournament.

“It was a super physical game and the refs let them play,” PHS coach Blake Ecker said. “We will be more prepared next game.”

The two teams are scheduled to play again on Feb. 20 at Philomath in the regular-season finale.

Cascade (15-2 overall, 5-0 Oregon West) put together an effective first half to build a 36-20 lead by halftime. The Cougars hit five 3-pointers in the first half to boost their offense. Philomath (15-2, 4-1) had a trio of 3s on its end but overall could not keep pace with the home team.

But after coming out of the locker room at halftime, Philomath played much better and went on a 17-5 run in the third quarter to get back in the game. The Cougars took a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter. Five players contributed to the Warriors’ scoring during that pivotal third period with seniors Ty May and Chad Russell leading the way with six and four points, respectively. Senior Cole Beardsley hit his third 3-pointer of the game and both junior Preston Kramer and junior Jacob Peters had baskets as well.

In the fourth, the two battled back and forth and with less than a minute to play, it was a one-possession game. After the two teams traded baskets with less than 30 seconds left, Cascade was leading 49-46. Philomath needed to foul and the Cougars made one of the two attempts to go up 50-46.

Kramer hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass at the buzzer to account for the final score.

May, Kramer and Peters all hit double digits for scoring. May had 12 on four field goals, two of those being 3-pointers, and 2 of 4 on free throws. Kramer had five field goals with one 3-pointer. Peters had five baskets and was 1 of 2 on free throws. Beardsley had three 3-pointers for nine points.

Sophomore guard Landon Knox knocked down 18 points and senior guard Spencer Horne finished with 16 to lead the Cougars.

Philomath comes home to play Newport at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The Cubs limp into the game on a three-game losing streak with their lost loss coming Thursday to North Marion, 72-57.