Philomath senior Hailie Couture scored 11 points and earned the team’s player of the game honor. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath High School girls basketball simply ran into a very good team Thursday night in the Class 4A quarterfinals in Forest Grove. Gladstone shot out to an early lead, survived a Philomath threat in the second quarter and ended up with a 59-38 victory to move on in the winner’s bracket.

Coach Ben Silva, whose team has played Gladstone twice this season, said the No. 2-seeded Gladiators have a legitimate shot to win the state title — an accomplishment that Philomath achieved last season. 

“They came out with a ton of energy and we made a couple of early mistakes and things just snowballed from there,” Silva said. “We got it down to eight at one point in time and had some momentum and I really thought we were going to make a push but then I think we turned the ball over a couple of more times and missed another couple of shots we’d like to have.”

Philomath (17-8) remains in contention for a trophy but must win on Friday morning in the consolation semifinals. The 10th-seeded Warriors will face 11th-seeded Crook County at 10:45 a.m. The Cowgirls lost 50-37 in the quarterfinals to Astoria.

“We still have an opportunity to play for a trophy game and fourth place is nothing to hang your head about so we’ve got to go get one tomorrow morning,” Silva said. “I think our seniors are going to pick up the team and I have all the confidence in my group of showing back up tomorrow and playing hard. They have a lot of heart.”

Gladstone held a 16-6 lead after the first quarter in Thursday’s win over the Warriors. In the second, Philomath whittled a 14-point deficit early in the quarter down to single digits with 2:48 left in the half. Ingrid Hellesto hit at the 3:55 mark to make it 24-13 and Emily Taunisila sank a 3-pointer to pull the Warriors to within 24-16.

But Gladstone regrouped and finished the half with a layup and a couple of free throws to lead by a dozen at the break.

“I think our seniors showed good leadership tonight,” Silva said. “Hailie Couture had a really good game in the first half in particular.”

Couture, who has been playing her best basketball of the season over the past couple of weeks, scored nine of her 11 points in the first half.

In the third quarter, Gladstone maintained its momentum and had a 14-0 run that started in the second quarter and continued well into the third. The Warriors could not find answers the rest of the way.

Abigail Brown scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second half. Couture was recognized as Philomath’s player of the game.

“The girls actually played hard the entire game … they left it all out there on the floor,” Silva said. “We just have to go out and clean up some of those mistakes and we’ll be just fine tomorrow.”

Ryme Jaekel scored 14, Rhyli Grim had 11 and Hanne Hopkins finished with 10 for the Gladiators (22-4).

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