Philomath seniors Cole Beardsley and Ty May hug during all-tournament team selections. The Warriors lost to Cascade 61-52 Saturday night in the 4A title game. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

FOREST GROVE — Coming out for the second half of Saturday night’s Class 4A state championship game, Philomath High quickly turned a one-point deficit into a four-point lead over Cascade.

Junior Jacob Peters drilled a 3-pointer just 13 seconds in. On the other end, Cascade’s own 3-point attempt missed, senior Cole Beardsley snagged the rebound and got the ball to Peters in transition. The jumper was all net and the Warriors led 25-21.

But those good vibes were short-lived. The Cougars (24-3) had all of the answers in the season’s third meeting between these two boys basketball rivals and responded with an 11-0 run. Philomath could never fully recover and the Cougars won their second straight state title with a 61-52 win.

The Warriors (22-4) had to settle for the second-place trophy.

“Their defense was exceptional and they beat us in all aspects of the game tonight,” PHS senior Ty May said. “They’ve got a good group of guys and they play hard and they play fast and we just weren’t executing tonight. Sometimes, shots don’t go in and it is what it is.”

Playing on Joe Moran Court at Forest Grove High School, the Warriors were greeted with a heavy and enthusiastic fan presence. The PHS pep band was on hand, the cheerleaders were doing their thing and the atmosphere seemed perfect to support a strong Philomath finish.

PHS senior Ty May puts up a 3-point attempt. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The two teams exchanged blows in the first half with Cascade taking a 21-20 lead into halftime. 

“We knew there were things that they like to do and we did a really good job in the first half — we were down by one and right in the ballgame,” Ecker said. “Even late, we were in the ballgame but it was hard playing from behind against those guys.”

Philomath’s first lead came at the 2:27 mark of the first quarter on a 3-pointer by junior Preston Kramer. With 57 seconds left, senior Chad Russell scored on a feed from May and the Warriors led 10-9.

In the second quarter, Philomath had a 7-0 run to take a 20-15 lead. Beardsley hit two free throws, Kramer sank another 3-pointer and May dazzled with a turnaround jumper. But then the offense disappeared over the final 4 minutes of the half.

“Up until halftime, we got them where we wanted them,” he said. “I mean, it was tough and we got a bunch of different defenses thrown at us. But we handled it pretty well and it was a one-point game.”

With the encouraging start to the second half, the game had the feel of another one that would go down to the wire. During the regular season, the Cougars had defeated Philomath, 50-49 and 64-61.

PHS junior Jacob Peters attempts a jumper in the second half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Following the back-to-back baskets by Peters to open the third, Cascade sophomore Landon Knox scored on a layup and then senior Rogue Newton came up with a steal and drew a foul on his way to the hoop.

The game official called May’s number — the third of the evening on the PHS senior.

Newton made his free throws to tie the game, Knox hit a jumper for the lead, Samuel Horne found a path to the hoop on a layup and Knox followed with a 3-pointer.

Said Beardsley, “They just went on a big run in the third quarter and we couldn’t do nothing.”

Junior Kaden Muir came off the bench to score 12 points. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The 11-0 run had shifted momentum in a big way to Cascade. The Warriors were not out of it by any means and pulled to within 34-30 with 3:32 left in the third on a 3-pointer by junior Kaden Muir. But the Cougars responded and were pretty much able to maintain a lead of seven to 11 points from late in the third through the fourth.

“They just did a great job of being patient with the ball and finding the open man,” Ecker said. “We tried to speed them up a couple of different times by going zone and put some pressure on them. We had to do something to try to get back into the ballgame.”

The Warriors seemed to be constantly adjusting their lineup during the game because of fouls. For example, May, Russell, Kramer and Muir each had two fouls in the first half.

“We’re about seven deep and so that made it a little tough for us,” Ecker said. “You just have to play through that stuff and play hard.”

PHS senior Cole Beardsley applies defensive pressure. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

May finished the game with a team-high 13 points with nine of those coming on 3-pointers. Muir came off the bench and scored a dozen points with two of his three baskets being 3s. Kramer added 11 points with a couple of 3s of his own mixed in. Peters finished with nine points and six rebounds. Russell had eight boards and two blocked shots.

Knox had a game-high 19 points for the Cougars. Spencer Horne finished with 16.

May and Beardsley were named to the all-tournament first team. They are two of the team’s four seniors — Russell and Brody Bushnell also played in a Warrior uniform for the final time.

Reflecting on his four years with the varsity, May said this year’s team gelled like no other he’s played on — they have a lot of the same views, they pray together before games and they always talk things out.

“It’s just a group of guys that get along together and we know each other well,” May said. “I give a lot of credit to the Lord for holding us together, I mean, because we can all turn to each other when our backs are against the wall and lean on Him.”

Beardsley had similar words.

“Everyone’s like family to me and I’m just going to miss everyone,” he said. “We had a good group.”

For the head coach, he said his group of seniors were a key to the successes that the program experienced this season.

“I’m really proud of the seniors and in down times, they picked us back up to where we needed to be,” Ecker said. “They left their own legacy in regards to showing our younger guys that’s where we need to be every year and to continue that process. So they left their mark on our basketball program.”

Philomath High players and coaches pose for a photo with the runner-up trophy Saturday night in Forest Grove. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)
Brad Fuqua

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.

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