In an impressive rally over the final four minutes of the third quarter, Philomath High's boys basketball team came back from 15 points down to force a tie with visiting South Albany in a 4A vs. 5A battle Tuesday night.
The Warriors had kept their head above water through a tough quarter-and-a-half to basically hit the reset button with only the fourth quarter remaining. The two teams were even.
But then the 3-pointers returned. The Rebels buried three of them in the first 90 seconds of the fourth, regained momentum and never looked back in a 66-56 victory.
"They hit those three 3s right at the start of the fourth," PHS coach Blake Ecker said. "We just didn't get out on them. We had some mental lapses right there early in that fourth."
Jake Costello, a senior returning starter on the South Albany team that reached the 5A state tournament last season, sank a trey 34 seconds into the final quarter. Philomath responded on the other end with senior Kenan Conner scoring inside but then the Rebels hit two more 3s on shots by Costello and senior Jaden Guilford.
"When it was tied, they hit the 3s and then we got kinda bunched up and decided to not run the offense exactly," Ecker said about the fourth quarter. "We're going to have to run our offense to be successful if we don't have a fast-break opportunity. Because we're not that athletic where we can just break somebody down one-on-one the whole time. So we've got to play together and find the opportunities."
Philomath's Nolan Jackson found Conner with 6:07 remaining to cut South Albany's lead to 52-47 but Costello responded with a couple of baskets to push his team's advantage up to nine. The Warriors were unable to keep pace the rest of the way.
"They can shoot the ball," Ecker said. "Coach (Eddie) Van Vlack talked about maybe doing a little 2-3 and it was effective until they hit some 3s and then we had to pull back out again."
The two teams combined for six 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Philomath junior Ethan Manning buried a trey at the 5:55 mark for a 7-3 lead. Later in the quarter, senior Tyler Pfarrer hit his first of two 3-pointers for a 14-9 lead with 2:12 remaining.
But the Rebels came right back with a Costello 3-pointer — he had four in the game — and an inside basket by Kyle Miller to tie the score.
Ecker said the team was playing to its strengths during those stretches when the Warriors were able to run with the Rebels. But in the end, Philomath had too many mental breakdowns.
"Hopefully, we learned tonight, hopefully we learned a lot of things," Ecker said. "Hopefully, we learned to get better mentally. That was our biggest thing — mental."
In the second quarter, South Albany opened with a 13-2 run through the first four minutes. Again, 3-pointers were a factor but the Rebels were also just executing on both ends. Junior Ryan Patrick's 3-pointer with 1:53 left in the first half gave South Albany a 34-21 lead.
South Albany built a 15-point advantage halfway through the third before Philomath finished the quarter on a 15-0 run. Conner got it started with a hoop at the 3:37 mark and Jackson followed with a bucket at 3:00.
The Warriors then got hit with a technical, although the Rebels missed both free throws and couldn't take advantage of the ensuing possession. A few seconds later, officials issued a bench warning to Philomath.
But that whole exchange only seemed to energize the Warriors while South Albany hit a wall. Junior Marshall Brattain's free throw cut the deficit to 10 with 2:29 left in the half. Jackson then came up with a steal and scored on a layup. Pfarrer's 3-pointer at 1:26 really brought the PHS gym to life with South Albany hanging on to a 43-38 lead.
"We went to that 2-3 zone and trapped out of it a little bit," Ecker said. "I don't think they were expecting us to do that ... and they got sloppy and we executed on the offensive end in the third quarter."
Philomath completed the run with a Jackson 3-pointer and then a Pfarrer jumpshot with 3 seconds left.
"Every team's going to make a nice run. We're good enough to make a run at people, which is good," Ecker said. "They sustained the run and made a little run of their own (in the fourth) and that sealed the deal. They're a good squad and they're going to be tough."
Philomath (0-1) was playing its season opener after a game that had originally been scheduled for Dec. 2 against Marshfield was postponed. Marshfield wanted to reschedule the game after making the state finals in football. Only the two PHS junior varsity squads played that evening.
Meanwhile, South Albany (2-0) got in a game before meeting Philomath with an 11-point victory Nov. 29 at Sweet Home.
Jackson had a team-high 16 points on seven field goals and a free throw. Conner ended up with 12 points, Brattain scored nine, Pfarrer eight and Manning seven.
"Nolan played hard, there were some things we could've done better with," Ecker said. "Marshall did a nice job inside, played hard inside, gave us some strength in there. We've got to do a better job overall, we've got to play better defensively."
The story of how the game unfolded was reflected in each team's top scorer. Jackson scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter when Philomath rallied. Costello didn't score at all during that quarter but then hit for 11 in the pivotal fourth.
Ecker wants to work on defense with his team.
"I don't know if we'll practice with a basketball the rest of the week," Ecker said.
The Warriors are off until next Tuesday with a home game against Elmira. The Marshfield game was rescheduled for Jan. 3.
South Albany 66, Philomath 56
Tuesday at Philomath
SOUTH ALBANY (2-0) 14 20 9 23 — 66
PHILOMATH (0-1) 14 10 19 13 — 56
South Albany: Jake Costello 8 5-6 25, Jaden Guilford 3 5-8 14, Kyle Miller 5 0-0 11, Seth Cullison 2 0-0 5, Ryan Patrick 1 0-0 3, Ivan Rodriguez 1 0-0 3, Eli Nafziger 1 0-0 3, Sam Myers 1 0-0 2, Isaac Southwick 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-14 66.
Philomath: Nolan Jackson 7 1-3 16, Kenan Conner 6 0-0 12, Marshall Brattain 3 3-9 9, Tyler Pfarrer 3 0-0 8, Ethan Manning 3 0-0 7, Calvin Snuggerud 0 2-2 2, Toby Stueve 0 1-2 1, Matt Hamilton 0 1-2 1, Josh Stephens 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 8-18 56.
Philomath 63, South Albany 57 (OT)
Tuesday at Philomath
SOUTH ALBANY 12 13 11 18 3 — 57
PHILOMATH 13 13 14 14 9 — 63
PHS scoring: Michael Lundy 19, Ben Reams 13, Dakota Kantor 10, Duane Hellesto 8, Brody Hiner 6, Brandn Vogler 4, Dylan Bennett 3, Devan Hunsaker 1, Daniel Lundy 0.
Team notes: Philomath's JV went to 2-0 with the OT win. ... South Albany's Sam Myers hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in regulation and the Rebels saw a shot at the buzzer rim in and out to force overtime. ... Michael Lundy scored on a layup off the OT tip-off, Dakota Kantor scored off the glass and Lundy buried a 3-pointer to quickly build a seven-point lead. Devan Hunsaker and Lundy also hit free throws in the four-minute overtime. ... Lundy is averaging 19.5 points per game and has eight 3-pointers so far this season. ... Philomath is shooting 37.3 percent from the free-throw line through two games. ... The Warriors play at 4 p.m. Tuesday at home vs. Elmira.
Junior Varsity II
South Albany 43, Philomath 34
Tuesday at Philomath
SOUTH ALBANY 6 11 18 8 — 43
PHILOMATH 5 11 7 11 — 34
PHS scoring: Jaden Williams 9, Dillon Olsen 6, Mason Howard 6, Levi Knutson 3, Dylan Edwards 3, Antoine Feld 2, Chris Hamilton 2, Matt Workman 2, Taylor Couture 1, Grant Hellesto 0, Hunter Kaumanns 0, Pablo Gurturbay 0, Emit Tutt-Lamberty 0.
Team notes: Philomath's JVII team dropped to 1-1. ... The Warriors trailed just 17-16 at halftime before South Albany went on an 18-7 run in the third quarter. ... Philomath buried five 3-pointers in the game, two of those by freshman Dillon Olsen. ... The Warriors reached the free-throw line just six times in all involving two players. ... Sophomore Mason Howard is averaging 10.5 points per game through the first two contests. ... The JVII team plays at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Elmira.