Kaden Muir, seen here in the team’s first meeting against North Marion, had a couple of baskets off the bench during Philomath’s second-half comeback on Thursday. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath High’s boys rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit, worked through the loss of two starters in the fourth quarter and made pivotal free throws to pull out a 53-52 basketball victory Thursday evening at North Marion.

The Warriors, No. 1 in both the OSAAtoday coaches poll and in the OSAA rankings, improved to 17-2 overall, 6-1 in the Oregon West Conference.

“We just got a few timely stops and hit just enough free throws down the stretch,” PHS coach Blake Ecker said about Philomath’s finish. “We didn’t play well but we found a way to win.”

North Marion (14-5, 3-4) struggled to an 80-37 loss to the Warriors on Jan. 24 but came out strong in this second meeting with leads of 10-8 after the first quarter and 25-18 at halftime. The Huskies offensive attack of sophomore Cole Hammack, junior Dawson Schrenk and junior Carter Reilly accounted for 46 of the team’s 52 points with 16, 15 and 15, respectively. Hammack, Schrenk and Reilly each buried two 3-pointers.

Philomath adjusted its defense for the second half and had a big third quarter to take a 39-36 lead into the fourth. Five different players scored over that eight-minute stretch led by Chad Russell’s six, Jacob Peters’s five, Cole Beardsley’s four and Preston Kramer’s four. Kaden Muir also came off the bench and scored.

Russell fouled out and Ty May was hit with a technical foul midway through the fourth to put the team’s two sizable starters on the bench for the final push. Before exiting, May made 5 of 8 foul shots, which proved to be key contributions. Kramer hit a couple of shots with a free throw, Peters made a basket and Muir scored again for the team’s other points.

Overall, Philomath shot just 47.8% on free throws (11 of 23) compared to North Marion’s 76.2% (16 of 21).

Peters, Kramer and Russell hit double digits for scoring. Peters had 12 on four baskets and 4 of 6 on free throws. Kramer scored five baskets and was 1 of 7 on foul shots for 11 points. Russell had five field goals.

Philomath will play on the road again Monday with a trip over to Sweet Home, an opponent the Warriors defeated by 38 points the first time around. The regular season ends with home matchups against Stayton on Feb. 16 and Cascade on Feb. 20.