Pie auction raises more than $5,000 for boys basketball program

Philomath High sophomore Kallen Albin made the biggest play of the night during the boys basketball team’s annual scrimmage and fundraiser on Tuesday — and it occurred in the stands.

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Albin’s apple pie brought in $500 alone on an evening when the hoops program netted approximately $5,750 through a pie auction. No pie went for less than $100 and several attracted bids of $200 or more.

“It’s fantastic to see the community come out and be able to help support our youth,” longtime PHS boys basketball coach Blake Ecker said afterward. “We do a lot of things with it.”

The pie auction has become a tradition for the team and in its most productive year brought in around $7,000. Players’ families donate the pies to the event and athletes go up in the stands to show them off to try to attract bids.

Rusty Jensen handles the auctioneer duties and has a knack of getting folks to bid against one another. Based on the smiles and laughs among those in the crowd, it appears to be a very fun activity that gets competitive at times.

“It’s been well worth it … we kind of stole it from a guy,” Ecker said about the idea. “We all steal things from each other as basketball coaches. It’s been fantastic and we’ve been really happy with it.”

PHS boys basketball scrimmage
The evening also included PHS players scrimmaging against one another. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The PHS varsity, junior varsity and JV2 teams scrimmage during the event — each lasting 10 minutes. About halfway through each “game,” a timeout is called and Jensen jumps into action to get the bidding going.

“Rusty Jensen — I really appreciate his work,” Ecker said. “And Jackie Olsen and the other volunteers that we’ve had doing that — we couldn’t do it without them.”

The money helps the program cover various expenses, such as team trips. The Warriors had been planning to participate in a December tournament in Alaska — an every-other-year trip that has become a team tradition. But Philomath had to back out of the tournament over issues involving COVID.

“They wanted a plan if someone was to get COVID in Alaska,” Ecker said, referring to a Philomath School Board discussion that took place last month. “It just wasn’t to be. So normally, we travel a little bit more, but this year that wasn’t able to happen.”

Instead of the Alaska tournament, Philomath will compete in the Riverdale Winter Tournament in Portland on Dec. 27-28.

“We’ve never been there so we’ll do that and then we also picked up a game at the Moda Center,” Ecker said. “We play Tillamook there, so that’ll be kind of fun for them. I think that will be a good time.”


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The Moda Center serves as the NBA home of the Portland Trail Blazers. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Dec. 11.

Philomath also typically takes a trip during the summer to compete in a tournament and get away for team bonding.

“Hopefully, maybe this summer we’ll take the group to Lake Tahoe,” Ecker said. “We do those things for them and have some fun.”

Philomath opens the season next week with a Dec. 1 game at Class 5A Corvallis. The team’s home opener — and in fact, the only home game in December — is scheduled for Dec. 10 against Central.

The Warriors are also planning to participate in the South Coast Les Schwab Tournament hosted by Marshfield High.

In a preseason coaches’ poll released Tuesday, Philomath was ranked No. 4.


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