Cole Matthews
Philomath senior Cole Matthews attempts a shot in the first quarter Friday night against North Marion. Matthews scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

A little more than three minutes in, the game appeared to be over. Philomath shot out to an 11-0 lead over visiting North Marion in a first-round boys basketball playoff game on Friday night. The Warriors were putting on a display of dominance with the Huskies struggling to do anything right.

By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors were up 21-6.

Philomath’s early fortunes on the court could not be replicated for the most part over the final three quarters and North Marion hung around. But the Warriors survived with a 61-50 victory to move on to next week’s Class 4A state tournament.

“We got up on them early with some transition baskets and did a nice job defensively,” PHS coach Blake Ecker said. “Then we kind of got away from what we should’ve done defensively out of the simple things — letting guys get around us to see the basket, jumping for every blocked shot — and so we just weren’t playing solid defense … and not making very smart decisions on the offensive end.”

Careless turnovers, missed layups and other miscues all added up to North Marion staying in the game.

“If we made our shots, it’s a lot different ballgame,” Ecker said. “It’s like I told the guys … ‘You won a ballgame and by not playing very well. So you’ve got a good ceiling in front of you.’”

Up next for the fifth-seeded Warriors will be a 4A quarterfinal at 3:45 p.m. Thursday against No. 4-seeded Seaside.

PHS senior Ty May finished the night with 20 points. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“We have a tough matchup with Seaside,” Ecker said. “It’s time to go back to work. They’ve got a really good point guard and a nice wing as well, good forward. Hopefully, we can play well against them and do what we do.”

In Friday’s win over North Marion, the Warriors (19-5) could do no wrong in the first quarter. Ty May scored the game’s first points with a move in the lane that sent a Husky to the floor. Then a hot-handed Cole Matthews buried a 3-pointer and scored on a fast break for a 7-0 lead with 5:43 left in the first. Chad Russell scored on a put-back and May converted in transition to complete the 11-0 run.

Matthews had an effective opening quarter with 11 of his 17 points on the night scored over the first eight minutes. May was also contributing with six points in the first quarter, including a slam dunk with 1:42 left in the first for a 15-4 lead.

North Marion, who will join Philomath in the Oregon West Conference next season with realignment, started to cut into its deficit in the second quarter. The Huskies had a 9-2 run and briefly trailed by single digits before the Warriors recovered. Matthews, Russell and May each had baskets during a 6-0 mini-run that gave the home team a 31-17 lead with 1:58 left in the first quarter.

North Marion (12-11) countered, however, and trailed 33-23 at the break.

Cole Beardsley shoots underneath the hoop against the Hornets. Beardsley finished with 13 points. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In the third quarter, the Warriors again flirted with running the opponent right out of the gym. For example, less than two minutes into the half, Cole Beardsley came up with a blocked shot on one end and Russell slammed it home on the other end for a 36-23 lead. Later in the quarter, Philomath went up by 17 when Beardsley drilled a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left.

The game got a little wild in the fourth with each offense producing points in bunches. Philomath had a 19-point advantage on a couple of different occasions but North Marion flirted with a comeback. The Huskies cut their deficit to 57-50 with 37 seconds left. Philomath closed it out, however, with free throws by Cameron Ordway and Matthews.

May finished with 20 points on nine field goals and a couple of free throws. Matthews’s 17 points were scored on seven field goals — one of those a 3-pointer — and two free throws. Beardsley also finished with double figures by scoring 13 points, a pair of 3-pointers among his baskets.

Carter Reilly, a nonstarter, scored a team-high 17 for the Huskies.

Ecker said he’s looking forward to the change of venue for the state tournament. With Forest Grove not wanting to host this year, the tournament was moved to Marshfield and North Bend.

Said Ecker, “It seems like a home-court advantage for Marshfield but you know, it is what it is.”

The boys’ tournament begins Thursday at 2 p.m. with No. 9 seed Baker playing No. 1 seed Junction City. Philomath vs. Seaside follows at 3:45 p.m., and then the evening session features No. 11 seed Banks vs. No. 3 seed Marshfield at 7 p.m., and No. 10 seed Stayton against No. 2 seed Cascade in a matchup between two Oregon West schools.

All boys’ games on Thursday will be played at North Bend High School.

The semifinals and the consolation semifinals will be played Friday — all of those games at Marshfield. The medal-round games are on Saturday with the championship game at 5:45 p.m. at Marshfield.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

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.