Ty May
PHS junior Ty May hits a reverse layup in the first half against the Huskies. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Coming out of halftime with a 23-4 lead over the conference’s last-place team on Friday, the Philomath High boys basketball team obviously had the game well in control. But on the team’s first possession of the second half, veteran coach Blake Ecker got irritated with his players.

The Warriors had struggled on offense at times during the half against Sweet Home and it was very likely a major topic of conversation in the locker room at intermission.

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“We didn’t do it in the first half,” Ecker said about executing on offense. “Then we came down first play in the second half and still didn’t do it and I got a little upset.”

After that rough start, however, the Warriors settled down and had an effective offensive attack.

“We started getting the ball inside to our posts, who were wide open, and then we just made lay-ins,” Ecker said. “That opens up everything else — when you attack inside first, it opens up the outside perimeter so much. To be able to do that is just huge.”

The final score ended up in Philomath’s favor by a 55-16 margin.

Cameron Ordway goes in for two points on a fast break. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Competing against a last-place team can challenge the mindset of the better team’s players — in other words, avoid playing down to the opponent.

“Games like this, you just kind of take them for what they are,” senior guard Cole Matthews said. “Our guys are competitive and we’d rather play in a hard-fought game. But it’s always nice to get a win.”

The Huskies have struggled this season to an 0-8 record in the Oregon West and 2-18 overall. The loss to Philomath extended a Huskies losing streak to 13.

“He’s a good coach and a great guy,” Ecker said about Sweet Home coach Drew Emmert. “Nobody ever wants to see a score like that, so that’s a tough one.”

Philomath (12-4 overall, 6-1 Oregon West) came into the Sweet Home game after a disappointing loss earlier in the week at Cascade.

“It’s definitely good to come back and get a win,” Matthews said. “That last game was really tough for us but this is a good way to get our momentum going back in the right direction.”

Philomath now has Woodburn coming up at home on Tuesday and although sitting in fourth place in the league standings, the Bulldogs will put up a fight. Woodburn is sitting at 5-3 in league play, 14-6 overall.

The team then has a makeup game against Newport on Thursday and steps out of the conference on Saturday for what should be a very interesting matchup against Banks.

PHS junior Chad Russell looks for room underneath against the Sweet Home defense. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Matthews feels like the team is in a good place with the season approaching the stretch run.

“I’m really hopeful for the rest of the season,” he said. “I think we’ve got a really good shot this year.”

Against Sweet Home on Friday, the Warriors had a 9-0 lead before the Huskies could get on the scoreboard. Philomath shutout the visitors in the first quarter but still only had an eight-point lead with those offensive hiccups. Junior Ty May and Chase Beardsley had fast-break baskets and Matthews scored on a put-back over the first eight minutes.

In the second quarter, the Warriors started to hit more on offense to build a 19-point lead by the break. Philomath continued to take advantage of scoring opportunities in transition, including a fast-break dunk by May with 51 seconds left in the half. Senior Isaac Lattin came off the bench and scored four.

Sweet Home, meanwhile, couldn’t do much against the PHS defense.

Cole Matthews pulls up for a jumper against the Huskies. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“Most of the time our defense is solid and that seems to be the case this year, too,” Matthews said. “On the offensive end, we can always use work. Most of it’s just execution — running through what we need to get through and get done.”

After the first possession in the second half, Philomath did just that and had a 19-point quarter. Junior Chad Matthews scored all eight of his points on the evening in the third and junior Cole Beardsley buried a 3-pointer for a 32-4 lead.

Heading into the fourth, May had 16 points and the coach rested him on the bench the rest of the way as several others got a chance for minutes. Freshman Hudson Raab, for example, was brought up from the JV and he got a varsity hoop with 1:21 remaining. Swing player Kaden Muir scored on a put-back with 35 seconds left. Senior Logan Carter, a regular off-the-bench contributor, hit a 3-pointer and had five on the evening.

Senior Russ Holly was Sweet Home’s top scorer with five.

Overall, Ecker said the team played well in the second half and did a good job on the boards. Said the coach, “It’s good for the guys on a Friday night to be able to celebrate a little bit.”


Philomath 55, Sweet Home 16
Friday, Feb. 4, at Philomath HS

JUNIOR VARSITY
Philomath 54, Sweet Home 18
Friday, Feb. 4, at Philomath HS

JUNIOR VARSITY 2
Philomath 32, Sweet Home 16
Friday, Feb. 4, at Philomath HS