It's the total team effort Philomath's coaches have been looking for this season.
Senior Marshall Brattain couldn't be stopped inside with Philomath's "Feed the Beast" strategy on offense. Junior Carter O'Hare blocked two shots on La Grande's final possession of the first half. Junior Toby Stueve picked himself up off the floor all night with aggressive play on defense. And sophomore Michael Lundy displayed nerves of steel in the second half by hitting 10 of 10 free throws.
Those were just a few examples of what Philomath came at La Grande with in a 59-44 victory Friday night in a Class 4A play-in game that advanced the Warriors to the state playoffs.
"I feel like we played our best game of the season tonight, so that was pretty good timing," said Brattain, who scored 16 points on six field goals and 4 of 4 free throws. "We worked the whole game, which we haven't done a really good job of doing the whole season. But I feel we played pretty consistent and worked hard the whole game tonight."
Brattain's presence inside was too much for La Grande to handle.
"We pretty much came into the game knowing that we wanted to give it to Marshall and that if people were collapsing, just relocate and try to get shots from the perimeter," said Lundy, who finished with 17 points. "They couldn't really stop the post, so Marshall was able to get a lot of points and near the end of the game, I was just able to get some tough shots and knock in my free throws."
Brattain was ready for the challenge with 14 of his points coming in the first half.
"Looking at their roster, they really didn't have anyone that was really tall, no one above my height pretty much," Brattain said. "Especially in the first half, we did a good job of doing that and getting it to me. The guards also made it a lot easier for me. Even when they started collapsing onto me, we were making a lot of good cuts and doing a good job of getting open."
Philomath trailed just once at 8-7 with 2:23 left in the first quarter. But Brattain scored coming out of a timeout, drew a foul and buried the free throw for the lead. Lundy hit a 3-pointer and Stueve scored inside off an inbound pass to provide a hint of things to come.
"I think we came out with the most energy we've seen all season," Lundy said. "Our defense was incredible. It just picks us up when we start clapping or get a tip or a block or a rebound. It just gets us going."
In the second half, Philomath started to pull away and led by as many as 15 points on two occasions. Midway through the quarter, Lundy had back-to-back steals and baskets for a 28-13 lead. A short time later, senior Calvin Snuggerud snagged an offensive rebound and scored for a 30-15 advantage.
Philomath lead was trimmed to as few as seven in the third quarter but senior Ethan Manning had three straight baskets to keep the Warriors' offense clicking. Manning hit a jumper at 7:02, scored off the glass at 6:21 and made a reverse layup at 4:54.
"We ran our offense and got the ball where we needed to get it and he put the ball in the hole," PHS coach Blake Ecker said of Manning. "You run our offense and it works. It was good that we did ad I'm happy for him."
A Snuggerud 3-pointer with 3:16 left in the third gave Philomath a 12-point lead and La Grande never got its deficit less than double digits the rest of the night. O'Hare buried two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter for the final push to victory.
"He did a good job of letting the offense flow through him, rather than catch and shoot real quick," Ecker said of O'Hare. "He was able to step into the shot and he's got a good shot when he does that."
Philomath entered the play-in game losing its last three games. The win was sorely needed, not only to keep the season going, but for confidence.
"It was pretty frustrating losing to Woodburn and Sisters so I think coming out with a lot of energy and knowing that if we lost, we were done, I think that motivated us a lot," Lundy said. "We have to come out the next few games with that same motivation to keep us going."
Junior Kaleb Meyer scored 12 points and senior Hunter Youngblood had 11 for the Tigers (7-13).
Philomath (13-11) will play on the road in a first-round playoff game. The most likely opponent appears to be Henley with that school even sending someone to scout Friday's Philomath game.
Philomath 59, La Grande 44
Friday at Philomath
LA GRANDE (7-13) 11 9 15 14 — 49
PHILOMATH (13-11) 15 17 13 14 — 59
La Grande: Kaleb Myer 4 0-0 12, Hunter Youngblood 4 3-3 11, Kaden Green Chandler 3 1-4 7, Justin Jenner 2 2-4 6, Cristian Mendoza 2 0-0 4, Nick Tsiatsos 1 0-0 3, Braden Bell 0 1-2 1, Zach Wiggins 0 0-0 0, Nick DuVernay 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 7-13 44.
Philomath: Michael Lundy 3 10-10 17, Marshall Brattain 6 4-4 16, Ethan Manning 4 1-1 9, Toby Stueve 3 0-0 6, Carter O'Hare 2 0-5 6, Calvin Snuggerud 2 0-0 5, Duane Hellesto 0 0-0 0, Ben Reams 0 0-1 0, Dylan Bennett 0 0-0 0, Colby Roe 0 0-0 0, Dylan Edwards 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 15-21 59.