Warriors senior Ty May slam dunks the ball in the third quarter. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath High boys basketball coach Blake Ecker had no choice but to call a timeout. The Warriors trailed visiting Newport 10-5 with less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Cubs had reeled off 10 straight points against a Warriors squad that was struggling mightily on the offensive end.

“We just didn’t bring good enough energy at the beginning,” PHS junior Preston Kramer said. “But we called that timeout and right after that we started playing.”

The Warriors responded by going on a 29-0 run to establish dominance and erase thoughts in the minds of Newport players that there would be some sort of monumental upset against the No. 1 team in Class 4A. Philomath ended up winning by a final margin of 65-26.

So what did Ecker tell his players during that timeout?

“Well, he told us that we need better energy and he was pretty mad,” Kramer said while his coach stood nearby. “But I mean, once he yelled at us, we were good to go after that.”

Ecker wasn’t happy with shot selection during those early struggles. The Warriors favored perimeter shooting but the shots were not falling. Things began to change once the players started to go inside and attack.

“We keep going back to wanting to shoot the 3 but no, we’ve got to attack inside,” Ecker said. “That means we need to penetrate the defense on the dribble or through the pass and maybe hitting the high post … Once we did those things, we did just fine.”

Connor Harms scored nine points off the bench. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Newport (7-12 overall, 1-5 Oregon West) also couldn’t do much the rest of the game against Philomath’s defense. Said Ecker, “In the second quarter, a 26-2 quarter, they just didn’t handle our 1-3-1 very well.”

Coming out of the timeout, junior guard Kaden Muir immediately went inside to senior Chad Russell, who converted under the glass for the team’s first hoop in nearly four minutes. Moments later, Russell scored again on a putback to cut Newport’s lead to one. And then with 15 seconds left, senior Ty May found junior Jacob Peters for another hoop underneath and an 11-10 Philomath lead.

“I think you believe that no matter what, you’re going to be fine,” said Kramer, who finished the contest with 14 points on six field goals and a couple of foul shots. “But we need to be able to bring that energy from the beginning and play how we should be playing.”

Several players were involved in the second quarter scoring outburst — Peters on a jumper, Muir on a fast break, Kramer inside, senior Brody Bushnell with a 3-pointer, May with a jumper and Kramer with another hoop put PHS up 24-10 with 3:40 left in the first half.

Junior Connor Harms, who had scored 20 points in two quarters of action in the junior varsity game, came off the bench and scored at the 2:13 mark. Senior Cole Beardsley scored six points in the final two minutes of the quarter, including one after a steal with 22 seconds left. Kramer had a couple of more baskets as well and May put an exclamation point on the performance with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Newport freshman guard Aaidyn Bokuro scored his team’s only hoop of the quarter with six seconds left. It was the first points for the Cubs in 11 minutes of clock time.

Junior Preston Kramer pulls down a rebound in the first half. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

From then on out, Philomath settled down and took care of business for what turned out to be a 39-point victory. In the third quarter, May, Kramer, Beardsley and Muir all scored points. May had one of his crowd-pleasing slam dunks with three minutes left in the quarter.

The bench cleared out in the fourth quarter. Harms scored three more baskets and finished with nine for the game. Freshman Rocco De La Rosa scored with 1:33 left.

Kramer capped his evening with his final points earlier in the quarter.

“I’m starting to get a little more confidence … I want to be able to get more confidence to shoot my 3s,” Kramer said. “But I mean, I think it’s going pretty well. I would like to be doing better and just have the team doing better by the end of the year.”

PHS senior Chad Russell works inside for two points. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

May finished with a team-high 15 points on six field goals, including that 3-pointer at end of the first half, along with a couple of free throws. Besides Kramer’s 14, Beardsley also hit double digits with 10.

Bokuro led the Cubs with 11.

Philomath (16-2, 5-1) will now play two straight on the road with North Marion up first on Thursday. The Warriors manhandled the Huskies on Jan. 24 at home, 80-37. A closer game on North Marion’s court is expected this time around.

“They’ve got three guys that are really good and hopefully we can handle them,” Ecker said. “It’s up there and it’ll be a lot tougher.”

North Marion is currently sitting at No. 6 in the OSAA rankings with a 14-4 record. The Huskies will come into the Philomath game after falling to Stayton on Monday night, 54-51.

For the players, it’s a challenge to not think ahead to the regular-season finale on Feb. 20 when Cascade visits the PHS gym. The Cougars edged Philomath, 50-49, this past Thursday.

“We’re excited to get revenge but I mean, we’ve got to go one game at a time and we’ve got North Marion next,” Kramer said. “So we’ve got to get ready for that one.”

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.