PHS senior Abigail Brown fights through traffic on her way to the hoop on Tuesday against North Marion. Brown scored 15 points in Philomath's victory. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Doubling the score in the first half on visiting North Marion in an Oregon West Conference game on Tuesday evening, the Philomath High girls were well on their way to what ended up as a 50-29 victory.

During those first two quarters, the Warrior offense stumbled a bit except for a hot start by Abigail Brown. Wearing a new uniform number, Brown scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half.

“My other jersey (No. 32), it’s too short and I hand tuck my jersey and I’m always getting yelled at by the refs so I changed to 22 because it’s a size bigger,” Brown said when asked about the number change. “Maybe it will be a lucky number because it’s two 2s.”

Brown’s skill would’ve been obvious no matter what number she wore with an aggressive approach to the basket that resulted in valuable points. But as avid observers of the program know, the team often relies on defense to frustrate opponents and create offensive opportunities.

Despite Brown’s start in the first half, the team as a whole wasn’t clicking on all cylinders. The 6-foot-3 senior said the team “came out really lax” and to a certain extent was playing down to the skill level of the opponent.

“At halftime, it took (Coach Ben) Silva using loud words to get us in the right mental space,” Brown said with a laugh. “And then in the third quarter, we had a stretch where we went off and scored a lot of points.”

PHS senior Abigail Brown eyes sophomore teammate Ahnika Tryon to pass in the first half against the Huskies. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Silva indeed felt the need to get the team fired up coming out of the locker room at halftime.

“In the second half, we brought more energy and especially there was a stretch there partway through the third and into the fourth that we really showed more of what we’re capable of doing,” Silva said. “We also left some points at the hoop on some layups that we’d like to get.”

Philomath (9-5 overall, 2-0 Oregon West) outscored the Huskies 14-4 in the third quarter to take a 20-point advantage into the fourth. Freshman Emily Taunisila buried the second of her two 3-pointers on the evening for a 27-14 lead at the 4:54 mark and senior Hailie Couture hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to put the Warriors up 34-14 while capping a 12-0 run.

Said Brown, “At this point in the season, the biggest thing is probably piecing together a whole game and not just playing half of a quarter or one quarter.”

Brown has averaged 17 points per game in the team’s first two Oregon West contests.

“She brought it right at the beginning … and was getting after it on the boards as well,” Silva said. “On the defensive end, we’ve just got to get everybody bringing that energy and intensity from the start.”

Sophomore Anneka Steen fights for the ball against North Marion. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Sophomore Mica Boynton had a big fourth quarter off the bench and ended up hitting double digits with 10 points over a span of 4-1/2 minutes of clock time.

Senior guard Allyson Coulombe scored a game-high 16 for North Marion (4-12, 0-2).

Philomath will now turn its attention to Sweet Home. The two teams will meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the PHS gym.

“I’m excited to play Cascade, obviously, because it’s a rivalry game,” Brown said about upcoming games on the schedule. “I know other people are thinking we’re down this year but I’m excited because I have a lot of faith and confidence in everyone’s abilities. I think it’s a matter of going out and playing our game, play the way we know we can play. We just have to do it for four quarters.”

Silva sees a competitive Oregon West this season with Philomath, Cascade and Stayton leading the way early on.

“I think it’s wide open and you can look around the state and it’s wide open now as well,” Silva said. “There’s a lot of teams that can compete.”

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.

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