Sage Kramer
PHS senior Sage Kramer won the Oregon West Conference Player of the Year honor again this season and is the frontrunner to earn the same recognition for all of Class 4A. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Helping the Warriors to the Class 4A girls basketball state title a few weeks ago on the coast, seniors Sage Kramer and Reagan Larson were not going to let anything keep them off the court. With the frustrations that the program had endured earlier in their high school careers, Philomath High’s players took their chosen season motto of “unfinished business” seriously.

Kramer played through an ankle sprain and Larson took the floor with a broken wrist — she thought it was just a strain at the time — in the 46-35 win over Corbett.

“Especially in that semifinal game, Sage was pretty banged up,” PHS coach Ben Silva said about the Oregon West Conference Player of the Year. “She was feeling better but was still definitely not anywhere near 100% in the championship game.”

Larson, who with teammate Abigail Brown made the all-conference second team, noticed that her wrist was hurting during the morning of the Saturday championship game.

“She told me, ‘I don’t think I can shoot’ and I asked her what happened and she said she didn’t know,” Silva recalled. “She said she fell on it sometime against Hidden Valley but there wasn’t one specific time that she remembered it happening.”

As a result, Larson went to go see the tournament’s physical therapist.

“He thought maybe it was just a little sprain,” Silva said. “But when she got X-rays (following the tournament), it was broken.”

Reagan Larson, senior, played through a broken wrist in the 4A championship game. She earned a spot on the Oregon West’s second team. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

The challenges the two players overcame are just another layer to a memorable state title season and serve as examples of players that earned postseason honors. Kramer’s recognition as the league’s top player was a no-brainer.

“Obviously, well-deserved and I assume she’ll be the Player of the Year in the state as well,” Silva said. “She deserves it — she almost averaged a double-double.”

Overall for the team’s 26 games, Kramer averaged 23.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Kramer was a unanimous choice for the all-tournament first team at state after averaging 20.7 points per game in Coos Bay — by far the top performance among individual players. Kramer was also the tournament’s top rebounder with 9.7 per game. She excelled in several other categories as well from free throw shooting to steals.

Despite the team’s dominance in the league, Kramer was the only PHS player on the first team. After Larson and Brown’s inclusion on the second team, honorable mention selections included juniors Hailie Couture and Ingrid Hellesto.

“I think it’s kind of tough when you have one player that scores such a large chunk of our points because I thought we should have had another first-teamer,” Silva said. “I thought Reagan deserved to be on the first team even though she didn’t have the stats in the points category. But what she did for us, you know, especially on the defensive end of the floor was a huge part of our success.”

Philomath went 11-1 in conference play with the lone blemish being a road loss at Stayton.

Brown was a player that showed significant improvement during the second half of the season and was named to the 4A tournament’s second team. At state, she averaged 12.0 points per game and shot 60.7% from the field. She also led the tournament in blocked shots with nine.

Junior Abigail Brown had a strong finish to the season and was named to the league’s second team. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Brown averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game along with 44 blocked shots during the season.

Couture averaged 6.3 points per game. She tied for third-best 3-point shooting percentage at state at 40.0%.

“In a few games, she shot the ball really well for us and it got her that recognition,” Silva said.

Hellesto started several games early in the season and then was typically the first one off the bench as a sixth player later on.

“There is some recognition for the defensive effort that some of these girls put out,” Silva said. “But her ability to rebound and defend, I think, is what got her that honorable mention recognition.”

Coach Ben Silva was selected as a co-coach of the year in the Oregon West. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Hellesto was especially potent on the offensive glass. In fact, at state, she averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game, which was tops in the tournament. And for the season, 71% of her rebounds were on the offensive end.

In addition to the player honors, Silva was one of two recognized as the conference’s coaches of the year. Silva shared the honor with Sweet Home’s Michelle Knight.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.