Senior Cole Beardsley's 24 points included three 3-pointers. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — With the opposing team still within striking distance in the third quarter, Philomath’s Cole Beardsley delivered the death blow.

Dribbling down the court and veering to his right, Beardsley took an off-balance shot from beyond the three-point line. The ball rattled home to give the Warriors a 20-point lead and on a personal level, represented the beginning of a 14-point half for the Philomath High senior.

The Warriors ended up winning the game over Barrow on Wednesday night, 73-38, to move on to the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic’s semifinals.

Beardsley put together a complete game with 24 points total. Twice in the fourth quarter, he had steals under Philomath’s hoop following Barrow rebounds — drawing a foul and sinking two foul shots on the first one and scoring a hoop on the second.

“I’ve always done it playing in the gym … but it never really worked out in a game,” Beardsley said about the steal-and-score tactic. “I try it sometimes — yeah, they lose their balance and I’ll go for it.”

Senior Ty May scores Philomath’s first basket of the night against Barrow. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Beardsley impressed head coach Blake Ecker.

“Cole did a great job getting a couple of steals there when they weren’t expecting it,” Ecker said. “He scored 24 and I don’t know how many steals and assists that he had but he led our team really, really well. It was impressive to watch … it’s fun to watch when he plays like that.”

Despite Beardsley’s impact, the Warriors undoubtedly got contributions from everybody in uniform. In fact, every player on the team scored.

Philomath built a 21-5 early in the second quarter but the Whalers wouldn’t go away and got back to within 10.

“I thought the first half was pretty good but we ended a little rough so it was tight and we needed to close it out,” Beardsley said.

Ecker thought his team was giving the opponent too many scoring opportunities in the early going.

“I think we were a little sluggish in the first half,” Ecker said. “Our defense wasn’t particularly great, you know, just not picking up guys and giving them open looks, which we can’t have.”

Philomath junior Jacob Peters goes inside during Wednesday’s win over Barrow. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Whalers couldn’t do much to stop Philomoath’s Ty May in the first half. The Warriors senior scored 11 of his 12 points in the first and second quarters with points underneath, from 3-point range and at the foul line.

Beardsley hit two of his 3-pointers about three minutes apart for leads of 17-5 at the end of the first and 24-7 a little more than two minutes into the second. But Barrow put some points together and trailed 33-23 with 7:25 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors responded with a 10-0 run to build a 20-point advantage. The Whalers couldn’t recover and the rout was on.

“In the second half, we did a much better job of concentrating on picking it up defensively,” Ecker said. “We had some easy looks … I thought we shared the ball extremely well, especially in the end. Everybody played, everybody scored and that was our goal in the first game — you want to get everybody some quality minutes.”

Warriors junior Preston Kramer gets a good look at the hoop. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Junior Preston Kramer sparked that 10-0 run in the third quarter with a steal and basket at the 5:15 mark and then another hoop at 4:49. Junior Owen Heiken came off the bench and scored almost immediately and then Beardsley hit that off-balance 3-pointer to knock the wind out of the Whalers.

As mentioned, all 12 players in uniform scored points for the Warriors, including sophomore Caleb Russell’s 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the game.

The game tipped off at 9:15 p.m. local time, which was 10:15 p.m. back home. But the players seemed ready.

“We all feel great … we’re definitely excited to play,” Beardsley said. “We look forward to tomorrow (Thursday) night. It’ll be packed.”

Junior Mason Stearns lies on the court after taking a charge. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The team will again need to be ready to compete at a later hour with the same start time.

“That’s going to be a crazy game — they can shoot it and they’ve got a big kid so we’ve got to defend, really defend well,” Ecker said. “It’s going to be packed here tomorrow night.”

Ketchikan fans definitely show support for their basketball teams.

“We just need to focus on us,” Beardsley said about how the team can work through the opponent’s home-court advantage. “We don’t really care what anybody has to say and we just stick together as a team.”

If Philomath can get past Ketchikan, the likely opponent in the finals would be Dimond, an exceptional program that had a dominating performance in its first game over Nome, 84-37.

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.