Ingrid Hellesto
Junior Ingrid Hellesto scored 16 points off the bench in Philomath's 68-38 win at Newport on Tuesday night. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

PHS junior Ingrid Hellesto provides huge spark off bench in the 1st quarter

Only once during Ben Silva’s four seasons as head coach of the Philomath High School girls basketball program has the team lost back-to-back games. It happened in the 2019 state tournament when the Warriors dropped a 61-56 decision to Baker in the semifinals and then lost the following evening in the third-/fifth-place trophy game to Newport, 52-40.

Coming off last week’s disappointing 43-40 loss to Stayton, the Warriors hit the road for Newport on Tuesday night. And there was no way that history was going to repeat itself.

The Warriors put the game away early with a 27-3 run in the first quarter and junior Ingrid Hellesto had a career night to what ended up as a 68-38 victory. Philomath officially clinched the Oregon West Conference title and earned an automatic berth in the Class 4A playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

Philomath (18-3 overall) will await results of this week’s play-in games to determine its March 5 first-round opponent. Meanwhile, the Warriors have scheduled a game to challenge themselves for Friday night at home against 5A Ridgeview, the Intermountain Conference champions out of Redmond.

Joining Philomath with a ticket directly to the dance is Cascade, the Oregon West runner-up that finished No. 2 in the OSAA rankings and will be seeded as such for the playoffs. Stayton, Woodburn, Sweet Home and Sisters all qualified for play-in games.

In the victory over Newport, senior Sage Kramer had 25 points and junior Abigail Brown contributed 10 but it was Hellesto’s performance that stood out to Silva. Coming off the bench early in the game, she finished with 16 points on eight field goals.

“She had a monster game finishing at the hoop doing what we have seen in practice all year,” Silva said. “She’s capable of giving us double digits.”

The homecourt Cubs couldn’t do anything to slow down the Philomath scoring machine in the first quarter. Hellesto was on fire with 10 points alone over those first eight minutes and five of her teammates found the hoop as well with the Warriors building a 24-point lead.

In the second quarter, the offensive pace slowed a bit but Philomath had the game well in hand with a 36-13 lead at halftime.

Kramer scored 11 and Brown had five to lead a third-quarter charge. The Warriors put 20 on the board to take a 56-28 lead into the fourth quarter. Over the last eight minutes, Kramer added three more hoops and sophomore Ahnika Tryon came off the bench for a couple of baskets.

Junior guard Avonly Wolf led Newport (6-17 overall, 0-12 Oregon West) with 15 points.