Down by a single point on the scoreboard at 37-36 Tuesday with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter, Philomath’s boys basketball team had been exchanging the lead with visiting Stayton pretty much all evening. The game seemed destined to come down to the final shot.
Instead, the Warriors stepped up defensively and started hitting more shots on the other end en route to a 57-42 victory. From that one-point deficit late in the third, Philomath outscored Stayton, 21-5, the rest of the way.
“It was a lot of help side and secondary rotation. I mean, we just constantly keep telling each other so we’re all on the same page in our roles,” said Philomath junior Cole Beardsley, who played a pivotal role in the exceptional defensive effort.
Philomath took the lead with 53 seconds left in the third on a 3-point goal by junior Ty May. With 15 seconds left in the quarter, Beardsley blew by a defender on a quick move to the hoop to give the Warriors a 41-37 advantage going into the fourth.
“I thought we played great team defense when we started rebounding,” Beardsley said. “We were getting outrebounded in the first half and so that was a big key to what we did and that we knocked down shots and just played good team basketball.”
Philomath led by eight with 6:11 left in the game but the Eagles were hanging around and cut their deficit to five with 4:32 remaining. Philomath responded to end the game on a 12-2 run. The Warriors went up 49-40 with 3:20 left on a well-executed fast-break pass from junior Chad Russell to May.
Over the final 2:22, the Warriors made 6 of 8 free throws and Matthews had a key blocked shot.
“We work really hard defensively every day and that’s what we strive for,” Ecker said, “and when the shot doesn’t go in … we can defend every time so that’s our goal — to play great defense and make it tough on the guys who shoot the ball.”
Stayton senior Jacob Axmaker had Philomath’s attention heading into this one. Axmaker scored 16 points for the game but didn’t have any points during the Warriors’ late run.
“He’s a very good player, a very good shooter and we had numerous guys — Cole (Beardsley) and Cameron (Ordway) both guarded him and the other Cole (Matthews) did a little bit but we’re long and lanky and we made it tough for him to shoot the ball over us,” Ecker said.
May said the strategy going into the game started to produce results over those final eight minutes.
“No. 1’s (Axmaker) an extremely good player — I mean, he can shoot the ball really well,” May said. “Coach had a game plan going in to run them off the line and limit his shots, limit his chances and it came to work in the fourth quarter. Because he was definitely putting them up and Cole (Beardsley) played great defense and we were able to get some offense going and with the student section here. I mean, once we got the momentum, it was going from there.”
Ecker said he wished Philomath could’ve rebounded a little bit better. Stayton in particular had a lot of second-chance opportunities in the first half. The Warriors also could’ve done a better job with shot selection, he added.
“When we decided to run our offense consistently, it works, and so we were able to get good, quality shots,” Ecker said. “But sometimes it’s tough for a 16-, 17-year-old man to understand, ‘hey, we need to put the brakes on a little bit here and run our offense and look for a good, quality shot.’”
May scored a game-high 23 points on six field goals and 10 of 13 on free throws. Beardsley had 13 on four field goals — three of those 3-pointers — and 2 of 2 on free throws.
Axmaker had 16 points on six field goals and 1 of 2 on free throws for the Eagles (11-3 overall, 4-3 Oregon West). Senior Gabriel Wigginton and junior Garrett Callsen each had 10 points.
Philomath goes to 5-0 in the Oregon West with one more game to play for the first half of the conference season. The Cubs are a sub.-500 team but are coming off a 28-point win over Sweet Home and could give the Warriors a battle.
“We’ve got Newport (and they’re) a lot better than last year, so we know that,” Beardsley said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and see what we can do.”
The Warriors-Cubs game is scheduled for 7 p.m. tip-off on Friday in the PHS gym. Philomath will bring an eight-game winning streak and overall record of 11-3 into the contest.
May feels confident about Philomath’s chances for a league crown with the team atop the Oregon West standings.
“I think we’re sitting in a very good spot to win league — fingers crossed,” he said. “We just need to keep playing as a team and if everybody’s working hard and doing their part, I think we’ve got a good shot.”
Philomath 57, Stayton 42
Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Philomath HS
TEAMS (RECORDS) 1 2 3 4 FINAL Stayton (11-3, 4-2) 6 15 16 5 42 Philomath (11-3, 5-0) 7 13 21 16 57 STAYTON FG FT-FTA PF TP 1 Jacob Axmaker# 6 1-2 2 16 2 Gavin Berning# 1 3-4 3 5 4 Gabriel Wigginton# 4 0-0 5 10 5 Jonathan Daniels# 0 1-2 2 1 21 Garrett Callsen# 5 0-0 5 10 22 Cody Leming 0 0-0 1 0 25 Kaden Holm 0 0-0 0 0 TOTALS 16 5-8 18 42 # Starter PHILOMATH FG FT-FTA PF TP 10 Cameron Ordway# 0 1-2 4 1 11 Cole Matthews# 3 0-0 0 7 13 Ty May# 6 10-13 3 23 30 Cole Beardsley# 4 2-2 1 13 53 Chad Russell# 1 1-2 0 3 22 Preston Kramer 0 0-0 1 0 23 Carson Gerding 0 0-0 0 0 32 Isaac Lattin 0 0-0 0 0 4 Logan Carter 3 0-0 1 6 25 Jacob Peters 2 0-2 1 4 TOTALS 19 14-21 11 57 # Starter 3-Point Goals: Stayton 5 (Axmaker 3, Wigginton 2), Philomath 5 (Beardsley 3, Matthews, May)
Fouled Out: Wigginton, Callsen
Total Fouls: Stayton 18, Philomath 11
Philomath 53, Stayton 14
Tuesday, Jan. 25 at Philomath HS
TEAMS 1 2 3 4 FINAL Stayton 2 2 10 0 14 Philomath 13 9 17 14 53 JV GAME NOTES Philomath’s JV team goes to 6-3 with the lopsided win. … Seven players had points in the six- to nine-point range. … Sophomore Kaden Muir and freshman Caleb Russell each scored nine. … Sophomore Kash Lindsey finished with eight. … Freshman Logan Matthews had seven points. … Sophomore Simon King, freshman Hudson Raab and sophomore Conner Harms each had six. … The JV team’s next game is set for 4 p.m. Friday at home against Newport.
JUNIOR VARSITY 2
Philomath 38, Stayton 32
Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Philomath HS
TEAMS 1 2 3 4 FINAL Stayton 8 4 4 16 32 Philomath 8 4 16 10 38 JV2 GAME NOTES The JV2 team’s record improves to 7-4 with the win. … The Warriors and Eagles were tied 12-12 at halftime before Philomath came out of the locker room with a strong third quarter, carrying a 28-16 lead into the fourth. … Freshman Grant Niemann led the third quarter charge with eight points while four other players had two. … Niemann finished with 16 points for the game on six field goals and 4 of 5 free throws. … Freshman Zach Powers tossed in eight points and Caleb Russell had six. … The JV2 team’s next game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at home vs. Newport.