Put yourself in the shoes of a Philomath High School boys basketball player for a moment. Just 14-1/2 hours after losing a 62-61 heartbreaker to Seaside in the quarterfinals, the Warriors had to pick themselves up and find new energy in a Friday morning consolation game against Baker.
A loss meant elimination. A win paves the way for a shot at fourth place.
Philomath took a good while to find its footing against the Bulldogs. But when the Warriors did start to click, Baker never had a chance. Philomath trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half but came through in the third and fourth quarters to pull off a 67-60 victory.
The Warriors (19-6) will now face Stayton in the fourth/sixth-place game at 9 a.m. Saturday. The Eagles beat Marshfield, 67-55, in the other consolation semifinals.
Baker shot out to a 22-9 lead by the end of the first quarter primarily behind a barrage of 3-pointers. Isaiah Jones, Hudson Spike, Paul Hobson and Jaxon Logsdon each hit from beyond the arc to build the double-digit advantage. The Warriors had a slow start with just one basket — a Cole Beardsley layup — in the first 4-1/2 minutes of the game. Jacob Peters scored on a put-back after a teammate’s missed 3-point attempt and Beardsley soon after hit a 3-point shot to cut Baker’s lead at the time to 10-7.
But the Bulldogs finished the quarter on a 12-2 run — the Warriors’ only points during that stretch coming on a Peters layup at 2:16.
In the second, Philomath started to whittle down Baker’s lead and got to within four points at 25-21 midway through the quarter. Ty May found the zone during a 12-3 run with a jump shot, dunk and two layups. The Bulldogs were able to counter, however, and finished the quarter strong.
Baker outscored Philomath 14-5 over the final 4 minutes of the half with 3-pointers again playing a key role. The Bulldogs led 39-23 with 2:03 left in the second quarter. The Warriors didn’t allow another point the rest of the half and with a Carson Gerding free throw and Isaac Lattin jump shot in the paint, the deficit was down to 13 by halftime.
Noteworthy to mention is that the Warriors trailed by that many points despite shooting 63.2% from the field in the first half.
Philomath experienced the same sort of outcome over the first half of the third quarter with Baker still leading by 13 at the 4:38 mark. Philomath then put together a 12-0 run to pull within one. Gerding scored five points over a span of 8 seconds with a 3-pointer and layup. Beardsley followed with a 3-pointer and layup of his own, and Chad Russell scored inside to make it 45-44 with 1:47 remaining in the third.
Baker recovered with a couple of 3-pointers to offset a Beardsley layup and the Bulldogs took a 51-46 lead into the fourth.
Cameron Ordway opened the fourth quarter by burying a 3-pointer. After Baker scored inside, the Warriors picked up points on a May layup and a second 3-pointer by Ordway to take the lead, 54-53.
Philomath never trailed again.
A couple of May free throws and an Ordway layup gave the Warriors a five-point lead with 5:48 remaining. Baker got back to within two points of the lead less than a minute later but Philomath came up with the right answers in response. Beardsley’s 3-pointer with 4:41 left gave the Warriors a 61-56 lead and then the Philomath defense took over. Baker scored just five points over the final 5 minutes of the game.
In the final 2-1/2 minutes, May and Beardsley converted on enough free throw opportunities for Philomath to secure the victory.
The final stats revealed that Philomath had shot 55.6% for the game compared to Baker’s 43.2%. The Bulldogs went cold in the second half at 31.6%. The Warriors had their biggest offensive contributions in the paint (38 to 16) and off the bench (18 to 1). Philomath had a 31-24 advantage on the boards.
The one area where Philomath struggled was at the free-throw line, hitting just 11 of 26 for 42.3%.
Individually for the Warriors, Beardsley scored 18 points — three of those being 3-pointers — and had seven assists (and was named the Moda Health Player of the Game for PHS). May contributed 17 points and had 10 rebounds. Ordway scored 12 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers. Peters hit 5 of 6 shots from the field for 10 points and also grabbed eight rebounds.
Spike scored 20, Jones had 19 and Hobson finished with 17 for Baker, which goes home with a 19-8 record.
Saturday’s matchup features Philomath and Stayton — two Oregon West Conference teams. The Warriors beat the Eagles twice during the regular season by scores of 57-42 at home and 68-50 on the road.