The Philomath High girls basketball team delivered on both ends of the court on Saturday night in a 65-37 rout over visiting Cascade. Third-year head coach Ben Silva called the performance “significantly improved” in comparison to the team’s victory 24 hours earlier.
In the season opener, the Warriors labored through a difficult second quarter while Woodburn climbed back into the game. The varsity had seen limited full-team practices heading in and the squad’s two returning all-state players had competed in state track at Florence earlier in the day.
But in the season’s second game against the Cougars, Philomath (2-0) built a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and effectively worked through any on-court issues to end up with a 26-point victory.
“Tonight, we did an excellent job and I think it all started on the defensive end,” Silva said. “When we’re playing well on defense, that’s when we’re at our best. Mia Rust did a fantastic job flying around to start the game, getting tips and creating a lot of problems for them on their offensive end.
‘That allowed us to get out on transition and we did execute better in our half-court,” he added. “We were a little bit more patient and didn’t try to force quite as much and we were able to score with the ball a little more efficiently in the half-court.”
Rust had a perspective that was similar to her coach.
“I think our defense was specifically really strong tonight,” she said. “We knew Cascade’s tough — they’re a well-coached program — and I think our defense is what won us the game overall.”
Philomath and Cascade have had some real battles over the years but the Warriors have dominated since Silva took over as coach in 2018. In the last five meetings, Philomath is 5-0 against the Cougars with an average margin of victory of 21.6 points.
In this one, Philomath shot out to a 17-6 lead in the first quarter with Kramer scoring 12 of her 25 points and Hailie Couture burying a knock-the-wind-out-of-you 3-pointer. On the final hoop of the quarter, Rust threaded the needle through Cascade’s defense to get the ball to Kramer for two.
“I was a little bit nervous for Cascade coming in just because they’re a good team,” Kramer said. “Just by the way we played, we’re looking pretty good and we’ll see how we’ll do this season.”
By halftime, Philomath’s lead with 15 and although Kramer continued to finish at the hoop, the Warriors’ Braedyn McNeely and Couture hit key 3-pointers to loosen up the opponent’s defensive strategy.
“Sage comes in and she creates such a challenge to the opposing coach. They try to run a box-and-1-type defense and our other girls just stepped in,” Silva said. “Braedyn hit a 2 and a 3 that were deep and Hailie hit a 3 and they had to come out of that right away because we do have that depth and multiple girls who are able to score.”
Cascade (1-1) opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to cut its deficit to 12 but Philomath recovered quickly to put the game away. Kramer hit a 3-pointer and Rust worked hard for three baskets during those 8 minutes to help Philomath to a 19-point lead going into the fourth.
“I was really happy with the way tonight ended actually,” Rust said. “I was a little nervous, and I know that Sage was as well, that we were coming from state track. It was a busy weekend, it was our second game, we didn’t have a lot of practices with all of our players because we’ve had people at tennis or track, so I was really happy and I know our coaching staff was really happy with the way this game ended tonight.”
In the fourth, seven different players scored for the Warriors and Silva worked in the rest of the roster.
Besides Kramer’s 25, Couture also hit double digits with 13 for the Warriors. Natalee Federico finished with 13 for Cascade.
A year of pandemic restrictions that started that morning in Forest Grove and wiped out the 4A state tournament for No. 1 Philomath will always weigh heavily on the minds of those who went through it. But the players returning for this spring’s campaign are focused on making sure everybody knows that the Warriors are still a force.
“We’re trying to prove that we were there last year, we deserved it and that we’re still at that caliber and can still be a top team in the state,” Kramer said.
Added Rust, “We are definitely planning to make it to that state championship and we’re going to win and prove that we were without a doubt the best team last year, even with the players we lost.”
The quest continues on Wednesday with a trip to Sisters. The team’s next home game will be May 28 against Stayton.
Philomath 63, Cascade 37
Saturday, May 22, at Philomath HS
|3-Point Goals: Cascade 3 (Clinton, Coleman, Jeppsen), Philomath 5 (Kramer 2, Couture 2, McNeely)|
Fouled Out: Coleman
Total Fouls: Cascade 16, Philomath 10
Philomath 34, Cascade 12
Saturday, May 22, at Philomath HS
|JV GAME NOTES|
|Philomath JV’s record goes to 2-0. … The Warriors shut out Cascade in the first half and led 16-0 at the break. … Nine players scored with none in double figures. … Madeline Fields had a game-high eight points and Elizabeth Morales scored six. … Cascade had just one fewer foul than points. … The JV team is scheduled to play next on Wednesday at Junction City. … The JV2 team had been scheduled to play but Cascade did not have enough players. The two schools expect to play a JV2 game later this season.|
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