Down by two points with more than 2-1/2 minutes gone in the opening quarter on the home court against cellar dweller Sweet Home on Friday night, the Philomath High School boys basketball team needed a spark to right the ship.
Finally, Jacob Peters came up with one of his hard-fought offensive rebounds and scored the team’s first points and 40 seconds later, teammate Cole Beardsley buried a 3-pointer. Chad Russell followed with a pair of free throws after drawing a foul to get to the line.
A collection of photos from Philomath High’s 59-21 boys basketball win over Sweet Home on Friday.
Then it was Beardsley scoring back-to-back baskets — finishing in transition and then hitting again 23 seconds later after teammate Ty May came up with a steal.
Just like that, it was over. Philomath had scored 11 points in 108 seconds. There would be no threat of an upset on this evening. Final score: Warriors 59, Huskies 21.
With so many impressive wins this season, Philomath certainly brings a lot of confidence onto the floor against any opponent. But is there such a thing as being overconfident? Ecker believes he saw some of that against Sweet Home.
“I think we were a little bit tonight,” he said. “We weren’t playing our normal self, particularly defensively, in the first half. Second half, we buckled down and did much better. But I think in the upcoming games, we’re not going to be overconfident in those games at all. We’ll be back to working hard and being our humble selves.”
Ecker emphasizes that part of his team’s approach to the game.
“We try to be respectful of other teams and how good they are,” Ecker said. “Even against Sweet Home, I told them beforehand that you can’t take them for granted because they’re going to come and play hard. It’s hard to tell a 16- or 17-year-old man that because they look on the internet and they see where everybody’s at and it’s hard to get that through to them sometimes.”
Philomath ended up allowing only two points in the first — those coming on free throws — and put together a 25-0 run that extended into the second quarter. Beardsley and Peters were especially potent in the opening eight minutes with a combined 19 of the team’s 21 points.
“They came out in a triangle-and-2 and that was something we haven’t seen so it was a learning lesson on what to do,” Ecker said. “For instance, Ty didn’t have his best game of the season but he learned from it and that’s what we want because we may see it again.”
Sweet Home didn’t convert its first field goal until the 6:20 mark of the second quarter.
The Warriors (14-1 overall, 3-0 Oregon West) downshifted a bit in the second half and ended up with a final margin of victory of 38 points. Ecker cleared his bench in the fourth to get some varsity minutes for several players.
Beardsley scored 17 points on eight field goals — one of those being that early 3. Peters added 13 on six field goals and also had a 3-pointer among his points on a shot early in the second half.
May had a slam dunk to highlight the third and in the fourth, players like Kash Lindsey and Owen Heiken had baskets during their time on the floor.
Philomath will try to keep the momentum going next week with a couple of tough opponents. The Warriors are riding a five-game winning streak.
“It’s exciting but it’s tough because we play Tuesday, Thursday, and then again on Monday,” Ecker said. “But yeah, it’s one game at a time and we have to prepare for Stayton and then it’s a quick turnaround to get ready for Cascade.”
The No. 7 Eagles will bring a 12-4 overall record into Tuesday’s game. Cascade is No. 2 right behind Philomath in the OSAA rankings with a 13-2 overall record.
“Stayton’s got a big guy that’s a nice player — Garrett Callsen,” Ecker said. “Cascade’s not maybe as big as we are so we have a little bit more length but they get out and fly around and work hard. It’s going to be a tough matchup at their place.”
Philomath’s game at Stayton on Tuesday is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off.