It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride this season so far for the Philomath High boys basketball team. First, the 0-2 start with a pair of games that very easily could've been victories.
Then after getting its first win, the team had another close loss to Coquille. The Warriors followed with a pretty good run of four wins in five games, the lone setback coming to Mountain View. The performance against Marshfield indicated that the team appeared capable of playing against some of the top 4A talent.
But then the Warriors dropped a three-point game at home to Gladstone with a performance that didn't resemble the effort just two nights earlier. The team also lost Ethan Manning to an injury, a player that had really been breaking out in previous games.
But now, Philomath has put together back-to-back wins by 15 over Scappoose and 20 over Tillamook.
As Oregon West Conference play begins, it appears obvious to me that the Warriors will be in the thick of the race. Newport and Cascade look like the top contenders with Philomath. Based on the scores I'm seeing for North Marion, I'd say the Huskies would have an outside shot at best.
Philomath wears a big target on its back because of past success in the conference. The Warriors have won the Oregon West title four straight seasons. Each of those years, Philomath went 9-1 in league play with the four losses coming to Central, Cascade and North Marion twice.
Coach Blake Ecker told me this last week and I agree with him. Banks appears to be by far the top team in 4A right now (although it looks like Newport gave the Braves a pretty good game Friday night). But the rest of the classification appears wide open.
If Philomath can turn the corner and play at a higher level on a more consistent basis, the Warriors have the capability of making another appearance in the state playoffs.