The Philomath High School boys basketball team hit a wall offensively in the fourth quarter and yet nearly pulled off an incredible comeback in the final seconds Tuesday against visiting Elmira. But in the end, the Falcons were able escape the PHS gym with a 62-59 victory.
"I think they were confident and made shots and we didn't do what we were supposed to do," PHS coach Blake Ecker said about the fourth quarter. "We gave up way too many looks on the perimeter again and we didn't rotate. Rudimentary stuff we are not doing correctly and it's mental preparation before the game even starts."
Philomath (0-2) opened the fourth quarter with junior Marshall Brattain scoring for a 52-44 lead. It would be the only field goal for the Warriors until junior Ethan Manning's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game.
Elmira took advantage of some Philomath breakdowns on defense with uncontested layups, free throws and back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Kellen Smith. In all, the Falcons went on a 13-0 run and took their first lead since midway through the first quarter.
"We just needed defensive stops and we have rotations that we have to cover in our 1-3-1 and we were letting guys stand there wide open for a layin and that's unacceptable," Ecker said. "If they hit a tough shot, you've got to tip your hat to the other team. When you don't cover that, it's disappointing."
Ecker called timeout with 3:08 remaining and the Warriors trailing 55-52.
"We've got time left, a ton of time left," Ecker said in response to a question about what he's telling the team at that point in the game. "We've just got to get stops. That was our big thing — we just didn't get enough stops on the defensive end."
Coming out of the timeout, Philomath turned the ball over on a traveling call and the Falcons later converted on the other end when Logan Bender scored inside. The visitors had a five-point lead with 2:01 left.
The rest of the game played out with strategic fouls, time management, timeouts and free throws. Trailing by six with 45 seconds left, the Warriors almost pulled off an impressive comeback.
Manning, who was having one of his top games as a varsity player, drilled a long 3-pointer with 36 seconds left to cut Elmira's lead to three. The two teams traded free throws and the Falcons had a 60-57 lead with 23 seconds left.
Philomath first got its chance at a possible game-tying possession after Elmira missed two free throws. Senior Nolan Jackson drove the lane and put the ball in the hoop, but an official said he took an extra step and Elmira got the ball back with 14 seconds left and its three-point lead intact.
The Falcons hit a free throw for a 61-57 lead and Philomath called timeout with 7 seconds left. Junior Calvin Snuggerud scored on a layup and PHS called its final timeout with 3 seconds remaining.
Elmira lined up to throw the ball in but had troubles and called its own timeout. On Elmira's second try at throwing in, PHS senior Kenan Conner actually got his hands on the ball but he couldn't grasp it in time as he fell to floor and out of bounds.
Elmira's Smith hit a free throw with 1.7 seconds left for a 62-59 lead. But with no timeouts left, Philomath had no time to move the ball to its end and Jackson had to put up a desperation shot at the buzzer from three-quarters the length of the floor.
Philomath found itself in foul trouble from the early minutes of the game. By late in the third and early in the fourth, two key players were on the bench with four fouls.
Philomath at times looked a little too hurried on the offensive end with low-percentage shots and turnovers. Ecker sees both the good and bad.
"We do have a couple of players that don't understand when we should slow it down," Ecker said. "It kinda drives you nuts but sometimes those players do make thing happen, so it's a 50-50 situation."
Manning scored 17 points, Jackson had 14 and Brattain finished with 12 for the Warriors. Keegan Cook and Smith each scored 20 for Elmira (2-4).
In an odd twist to the schedule, Philomath's game against Elmira was just the team's second game. Meanwhile, the Falcons were playing their sixth game. Only two other teams in Class 4A have played just two games this far into the season, one of those being Marshfield, an opponent Philomath was supposed to play in its opener. But since the Pirates had most of its athletes in the state football championship game the previous weekend, the schools agreed to postpone it until Jan. 3.
Ecker said he hadn't seen a situation before when his team had so few games this far into December, but at the same time, he wasn't making any excuses for the 0-2 start.
"I think it does help to have some games under our belt, but we know what we're supposed to do and when we just don't do it, it's disappointing to see," he said.
Philomath heads to Marshfield Thursday through Saturday for a tournament.
Elmira 62, Philomath 59
Tuesday at Philomath
ELMIRA (2-4) 12 13 19 18 — 62
PHILOMATH (0-2) 20 13 17 9 — 59
Elmira: Keegan Cook 5 6-9 20,Kellen Smith 6 5-9 20, Logan Bender 5 3-6 13, Vince Delamater 3 0-0 6, Justice Storey 0 3-5 3, Paul Ossowski 0 0-0 0, Ryan Olson 0 0-0 0, Riley Chambers 0 0-0 0, Christian Davis 0 0-0 0, Jayden Palmer 0 0-0 0, Logan Duquette 0 0-0 0, Corbyn Herbert 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 17-29 62.
Philomath: Ethan Manning 7 0-0 17, Nolan Jackson 5 2-4 14, Marshall Brattain 5 2-5 12, Kenan Conner 2 0-0 5, Matt Hamilton 2 1-2 5, Calvin Snuggerud 1 2-4 4, Toby Stueve 1 0-0 2, Josh Stephens 0 0-0 0, Tyler Pfarrer 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-15 59.
Philomath 53, Elmira 46
Tuesday at Philomath
ELMIRA 4 12 10 20 — 46
PHILOMATH 13 20 10 10 — 53
PHS scoring: Michael Lundy 18, Devan Hunsaker 8, Ben Reams 7, Brody Hiner 6, Dakota Kantor 5, Dylan Bennett 4, Daniel Lundy 2, Brandn Vogler 2, Duane Hellesto 0, Dylan Edwards 0, Mason Howard 0.
Team notes: Philomath's JV improved to 3-0 with the victory. ... The Warriors led 33-16 at halftime and 43-26 at the end of the third before Elmira rallied to pull to within seven at the final buzzer. ... Freshman Michael Lundy scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half. ... The team's struggles at the free-throw line continued at 6 for 20. ... The JV Warriors are scheduled to play Tuesday at home against Sutherlin.
Junior Varsity II
Philomath 48, Elmira 34
Tuesday at Philomath
ELMIRA 6 15 5 8 — 34
PHILOMATH 6 15 21 6 — 48
PHS scoring: Dylan Edwards 13, Mason Howard 8, Dillon Olsen 6, Levi Knutson 6, Chris Hamilton 6, Jaden Williams 4, JJ Rutledge 3, Hunter Kaumanns 2, Antoine Feld 0, Grant Hellesto 0, Taylor Couture 0, Pablo Gurturbay 0, Emmit Tutt-Lamberty 0.
Team notes: Philomath's JVII team improves to 2-1. ... The Warriors and Falcons were tied at the end of the first and second quarters before Philomath took control in the third with a 21-5 run. ... Levi Knutson, Dylan Edwards, Mason Howard and Jaden Williams all scored field goals in the pivotal third period. ... The JVII team is scheduled to play Saturday at a tournament at Gladstone.