STAYTON — Philomath High’s girls basketball team had its sights set on winning the Oregon West Conference title last season and when the dust had cleared, that goal had been reached. But the Warriors had to share it with Stayton thanks to a 46-36 road loss to the Eagles.
Philomath returned to the Stayton gym Friday night with no intentions of a repeat. The Warriors dominated on defense and battled through some shooting issues on offense to post a 46-20 victory.
“They’re probably the best team in our league, so we came in like ‘we have to win this game’ because we don’t want to stoop down to anyone’s level,” junior Braedyn McNeely said about the Eagles, which came in ranked in the top 10. “We don’t want to overlook the teams we play so we want to stay focused because we don’t have much competition until we get to state. ... We don’t want to come in too cocky.”
Philomath has developed a strong presence on the court, however, and the Eagles just couldn’t keep up with their No. 1-ranked opponent. Stayton’s inability to find the net plagued the team all evening — hitting just one field goal in the entire first half while trailing 21-5 at the intermission.
“That’s our bread-and-butter on the defensive end,” second-year PHS coach Ben Silva said. “We’re playing with a little bit more energy, especially in our zone and just focusing on each possession and getting a stop. That’s been one of our goals — stringing together streaks and stops and they did a good job with that.”
The Warriors (11-0) actually had a slow start themselves with a series of misses to open the game. Sophomore Sage Kramer, who had more points than the entire Stayton lineup with 22, had the first points with 4:13 left in the first quarter. Kramer forced a turnover, scored on the other end and drew a foul, sinking the free throw for a traditional three-point play.
Seconds later, she did it again in the exact same manner — steal, layup, foul and free throw — for a 6-0 Warriors lead at the 3:55 mark. Philomath went on to build an 8-0 advantage before Stayton could score on a fast-break basket by Karlee Tyler — but that was the only hoop for the home team in the first half with the other three coming on free throws.
Philomath had the 16-point lead at the break but wasn’t hitting on cylinders on the offensive end. Kramer had a steal and reverse layup for two, McNeely hit a couple of jump shots, junior Mia Rust scored back-to-back buckets inside and junior Kamden Combs scored on a jumper with free throws filling in the gaps.
Overall, Philomath actually struggled at times to finish.
“We missed a lot of shots that we normally hit,” Silva said. “Sometimes they don’t fall your way. Credit to them for being very fundamentally sound on the defensive end and they were in the right spots most of the time but we still missed a number of open shots.”
In the second half, Philomath did much of the same and took a 24-point lead into the fourth quarter thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Rust. The final margin of 26 equaled the team’s biggest lead of the game.
Despite some of those issues on offense, Philomath still won the game handily — which one could say is the mark of a good team.
“Anytime you only give up 20 points, you’re going to put yourself in a great opportunity to win,” Silva said.
The Warriors will play their conference home opener at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against Sweet Home. The Huskies opened league play Friday with a 49-36 loss to Woodburn and stands at 6-6 overall for the season.
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Philomath 46, Stayton 20
Friday at Stayton
PHILOMATH (11-0, 1-0) 13 8 15 10 — 46
STAYTON (8-4, 0-1) 3 2 7 8 — 20
Philomath: Sage Kramer 9 3-4 22, Mia Rust 3 0-0 7, Braedyn McNeely 3 0-0 6, Lara Hunter 0 5-5 5, Emma Pankalla 2 0-0 4, Kamden Combs 1 0-0 2, Alexis Van Vlack 0 0-0 0, Rivers Nuno 0 0-0 0, Phaedra Hinds-Cook 0 0-0 0, Kaili Saathoff 0 0-0 0, Abigail Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-9 46.
Stayton: Karlee Tyler 5 1-3 11, KJ Nyquist 1 2-4 3, Tori Nyquist 1 1-5 3, Emma Storey 0 2-2 2, Kaylee Tyler 0 0-0 0, Miley Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Maddy Mitzel 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 6-14 20.
Philomath 42, Stayton 17
Friday at Stayton
PHILOMATH 9 8 14 11 — 42
STAYTON 7 8 2 0 — 17
PHS scoring: Abigail Brown 16, Hailie Couture 15, Ingrid Hellesto 6, K Bacho 2, Mia Cook 2, Kiya Smith 0, Elizabeth Morales 0, Alyson Todd 0, Cassidy Lewis 0, Hannah Beck 0, Alivia Pittman 0, Brooke Moade 0, McKenzie Hauck 0.
Team notes: The JV team’s record remains perfect at 8-0. ... Abigail Brown and Hailie Couture combined to score 31 of the team’s 42 points. ... Brown scored her 16 on eight field goals while Couture made five field goals, including two 3-pointers, and 4 for 5 on free throws. ... Stayton scored just two points in the second half, none in the fourth quarter. ... All 13 players suited up for Philomath saw game action. ... There was no JVII game. ... Next week, the team plays Tuesday at home against Sweet Home and on the road Friday at Cascade.