PHS sophomore Anneka Steen hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath High School girls basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Les Schwab South Coast Tournament on Friday in Coos Bay with a solid 36-31 victory over Class 5A Redmond.

The Warriors (3-3) will face Astoria in the tournament finale at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Philomath opens tournament with girls hoops victory

Freshman Emily Taunisila scored inside to give Philomath the lead, senior Abigail Brown hit key free throws late and the defense came up with big stops to help the Warriors to a 32-27 victory over Mazama Thursday night in the team’s first game at the Les Schwab South Coast Tournament in Coos Bay. The Warriors…

The Panthers (4-2) came into the game riding a four-game winning streak, including a 47-43 win over Junction City in the tournament’s first round on Thursday. Philomath, meanwhile, shook off a rough three-game stretch of losses by downing Mazama in the opening round, 32-27.

“They were a tough team,” PHS coach Ben Silva said. “We had some great possessions in the second half where we worked the ball around to get great looks.”

Philomath turned a four-point deficit at the end of the first quarter into a one-point lead at halftime. More than half of those first-half points came on 3-pointers — two by sophomore Anneka Steen and one by freshman Emily Taunisila.

In the second half, the Warriors jived better on offense en route to the victory. Taunisila hit another 3 and both junior Ahnika Tryon and senior Abigail Brown consistently scored with each hitting double figures.

Philomath has been at less than full strength over the past few games. Senior starter Hailie Couture hasn’t been on the court since the second game of the season and Silva had no definitive timeline on when she might return. Another senior starter, Mia Bennett, is sidelined with a knee injury and will miss the entire tournament.

“We brought up Aspen Russell for the tournament and she has given us some solid minutes,” Silva said.

Senior Ingrid Hellesto was not in the lineup for Thursday’s game because of a commitment with PHS band but she was back on the floor Friday.

Against the Panthers, Tryon finished with 11 points on three field goals and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line. Brown scored 10 on five field baskets.

The Warriors did have issues at the foul line. Not counting Tryon, the rest of the team was a combined 1 of 10 from the stripe.

Redmond junior Brynn Capps led her team with a dozen points.