PHS senior Chad Russell scored 18 points against Ketchikan. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — Fighting through a raucous crowd on the opponent’s home court in one of the community’s biggest sporting events of the year, the Philomath High boys basketball team stood tall with a 68-51 victory over Ketchikan.

The Warriors (9-0) advance to the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic’s championship game to face Dimond, a top basketball school out of Anchorage.

“I’ve never played with a crowd like that and with the noise, I mean, it was the loudest I’ve ever played in,” PHS senior Ty May said. “It’s kinda hard to silence it but once you’re able to silence it and just focus, it’s pretty amazing.”

Junior Jacob Peters scored four straight baskets for Philomath in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath’s inside game was effective with May, senior Chad Russell and junior Jacob Peters combining for 48 points. May scored some of his points from the outside, but the Warriors didn’t need to rely much on its perimeter game with so many opportunities in the paint.

“Inside with me and Ty, it’s expected because we’re bigger but a lot of people don’t see Peters as like a dominant post player,” said Russell, who had one of his best-ever games with 18 points. He’s just naturally good at rebounding, so he’s down there scrapping. He doesn’t have the size but he’s got the motor to do it.”

May, who also had 18 points, gave a lot of credit to his teammates.

Senior Ty May shoots in the first half against Ketchikan. May scored 18 points. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“Chad was huge for us,” May said. “I think the TV station called him the ‘garbage man’ because he picks up all of the garbage shots — for him to come in like that and just score at ease, I mean, he was getting everything inside.

“Jacob, he’s got such a motor and the inside game was there and they exploited it for us,” May added. “He knows ball movement, like he can track the ball way better than anyone I’ve seen.”

The game was tight in the first half with the Warriors leading 15-14 through the first quarter and 29-22 at halftime. But in the third, Philomath soon built a double-digit lead and never allowed the Kings to get back in it by taking very good care of the ball.

“We did very well in the second half — only had two turnovers,” Russell said. “But I think the first half was too close for comfort for me. We had a lot of turnovers, a lot of missed shots and we weren’t getting back on defense.”

Philomath went up by 10 for the first time with 6:27 left in the third on a Peters basket and then May followed with a dunk to make it 37-25. Ketchikan and the Warriors traded baskets for most of the rest of the quarter and PHS led by 13 going into the fourth.

Peters scored four straight baskets for the Warriors early in the fourth and Philomath led by as many as 20.

“It tells you a lot because that was like a huge playoff atmosphere, you know, and that’s what it’s going to be like (in the Class 4A postseason)” May said. “If we can win with all of the cards stacked against us like that, I mean, we can go far.”

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.