Gerding works hard for floor time in his final run with program
The arrival of senior night on the basketball schedule signals that the season’s end is near for those upperclassmen that will be moving on from the program through graduation. The seniors can look back on their experiences on the court and prepare for one final postseason run.
In the case of Carson Gerding, he’s not ready to put basketball behind him just yet. A football injury in the spring forced him to miss last season and disrupted his development in the sport. In recent weeks, Gerding’s play has increased as he continues to work for court time as one of the first players off the bench.
“I’ve been working on my shot a lot and it’s really showed in the past few games,” Gerding said after Philomath’s 50-32 senior night win over Sisters on Tuesday. “Today, we were doing really well on defense so I got a lot of fast-break buckets.”
A few days ago, Gerding even asked assistant coach Trey Ecker if he’d meet up at 6 a.m. for some shooting work in the gym.
“This is probably as long of a stretch that he’s had with being in playing,” PHS head coach Blake Ecker said. “When he had those breaks, it was tough for him to stay focused … it’s been like one step forward and two steps back. Now, he’s kind of stepping forward.”
Gerding was one of five seniors to be recognized and Ecker penciled all in as starters. Other seniors include Logan Carter, Isaac Lattin, Cole Matthews and Cameron Ordway.
Fittingly, each senior scored in the first quarter. Lattin opened the game with a fast-break hoop 17 seconds in. Carter had seven in the quarter, his first coming on a layup at 6:42. Gerding scored his first two of four first-quarter points on a fast break at 5:50. Ordway had a backcourt steal and hoop at 3:40 and later added a free throw. And Matthews brought huge cheers from the crowd with a slam dunk at 2:13.
The injury during the out-of-the-ordinary spring football season forced Gerding to readjust his approach to his role with the basketball team.
“Part of the reason I don’t have as much chemistry as everybody else does with this team is because I missed all of last year, so I totally understand,” Gerding said. “But I’ve fallen into the groove of things with how subs are going in and I’m starting to like it more and more.”
Philomath put away Sisters early with a 13-0 run — the Outlaws unable to score through 6 minutes, 48 seconds of clock time. By halftime, the Warriors lead was 32-11.
Ecker was glad to see the team’s energy level return Tuesday after a lackluster performance on Saturday in a loss to Banks.
“The guys did a nice job of coming out and putting pressure on them early,” Ecker said. “So they did a nice job, especially in the first half with getting up and down the floor and flying around and getting easy transition baskets. … It was a good comeback from Saturday and now it’s one day off and prepare and here we go again at Stayton — that’s going to be a big one.”
Matthews finished with a team-high 13 points with a pair of 3-pointers and 3 of 4 on free throws worked into that stat line. Sophomore Preston Kramer came off the bench and scored eight points.
Junior Ty May missed the game with an elbow infection but Ecker said he hopes to see him back in uniform Thursday.
Senior Max Palanuk had a game-high 15 points for the Outlaws (9-12 overall, 2-8 Oregon West).
As Ecker mentioned, a Thursday trip to Stayton now looms on the schedule in a key showdown with conference title and Class 4A ranking implications. Philomath beat the Eagles on its home floor 57-42 on Jan. 15. Stayton will come in with a 16-4 overall record, 6-3 in league play.
The Warriors are tied with Cascade for first place in the Oregon West at 9-1. All three of the league’s top three teams — Cougars, Warriors and Eagles — are sitting in the top five of the OSAA rankings.
The boys will be playing in the evening’s early game with a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.