PHS girls basketball team in pregame huddle
The PHS girls basketball team lost to an Oregon West Conference opponent for the first time since Jan. 29, 2019. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Warriors remain in control of conference title aspirations

For the first time in over three years, the Philomath High girls basketball team lost a game in the Oregon West Conference. Stayton’s 43-40 upset on Thursday night snapped the Warriors’ 23-game winning streak in league play.

The last time Philomath lost in the conference? Jan. 29, 2019 … at Stayton.

PHS coach Ben Silva said simply that his team could never get any rhythm going on the offensive end against the Eagles. Stayton limited the Warriors to 14 points in the first half and then held on all the way to the end to post the victory in front of a thrilled home crowd.

Helping Stayton’s cause in the fourth quarter was an 8-for-12 performance at the free-throw line — a somewhat average 66.7% but good enough to keep Philomath from the win column. A couple of Kaylee Tyler baskets and a 3-pointer by Miley Mitchell also benefited the home team.

The Warriors led 10-7 after one quarter behind the strength of 3-pointers from senior Sage Kramer and junior Hailie Couture. But in the second quarter, the offense struggled to score just two baskets — one by Kramer and one by junior Mia Bennett. Philomath found itself in a rare situation with a four-point halftime deficit to discuss in the locker room.

In the third quarter, the game remained close and the Eagles took a 28-27 lead into the fourth. Kramer scored six, junior Abigail Brown had four and junior Ingrid Hellesto hit for three over those eight minutes following the intermission.

In the fourth, Kramer scored eight of her 21 points — which included a pair of 3-pointers — and both Brown and Hellesto contributed baskets. Hellesto also hit a free throw but it wasn’t enough to catch the opponent.

Philomath had limited free-throw opportunities and when it did reach the foul line, only hit on 50% at 4 for 8.

In addition to the conference winning streak ending, Philomath also lost for just the second time in three years to a Class 4A opponent. The only in-class team to beat the Warriors before Thursday was Hidden Valley in the finals of last spring’s 4A Showcase tournament. Philomath had beaten Stayton by 19 points earlier this season.

Three players hit double digits for the Eagles (14-6 overall, 8-4 Oregon West) — Kaylee Tyler with 11, Karlee Tyler with 10 and Mitchell with 10.

Philomath (17-3 overall, 10-1 Oregon West) will try to right the ship on Tuesday with a run to the coast to face Newport.