In a boys basketball battle against a team that just might be in the mix for a possible state title in March, Philomath High had its chances to pull off a nice victory at home Tuesday night against a talent-rich Banks ballclub.
But the Warriors had a few too many self-inflicted miscues, the visitors took advantage of the opportunities and the scoreboard ended up in favor of Banks, 61-50.
A learning experience? That definitely seems to be the case, although veteran coach Blake Ecker knows his Warriors could’ve chalked up a “W” with cleaner play down the stretch.
“We had every opportunity in the world,” Ecker said after PHS fell to 1-1 on the season. “We need to take care of the basketball, we need to control our emotions. There are a lot of little things that we can improve upon.”
Banks entered the PHS gym coming off a 40-point victory over 5A Crescent Valley and with height, speed and experience, would give the Warriors a very tough early-season test.
“They’re a very good ballclub,” Ecker said. “I’d rather get these mistakes out of the way now and keep getting better and better. In Junction City, we were inept but here, we looked a lot better.”
Philomath battled back from an 11-point first-half deficit to tie the game 28-28 by halftime. In the second half, the Braves again built a double-digit lead and took a 14-point advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Digging out of big holes can take a lot of out of a team and although the Warriors had another impressive rally to get back to within four, they couldn’t get over the hump in the final 3 minutes.
“It is hard to come back from and we did it twice,” Ecker said. “But gosh, let’s not dig ourselves so deep.”
Why the slow starts in the first and third quarters?
“Don’t ask me why. Like Calvin’s (Snuggerud) dad said, maybe we need a cattle prod out there to get them going in the first quarter,” Ecker said. “The things that we do to start off with, we should have high energy and be getting after it and flying around. But each team’s a little bit different.”
With Banks leading 50-36 through three quarters, the Warriors needed to get something going right away in the fourth. Philomath scored six straight to steal momentum with Marshall Brattain hitting a pair of free throws and Michael Lundy utilizing his quickness to score back-to-back hoops.
Banks junior Jacob Slifka, who had a game-high 14 points, buried a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding. But then the Warriors countered with another run of seven straight points to get the deficit down to 53-49.
On the run, Lundy nailed a jumpshot, Carter O’Hare hit a 3-pointer and Toby Stueve scored after a Banks turnover.
But then, the momentum shifted back to the visitors with 1:58 remaining when officials whistled Philomath for a foul — and then a technical foul when Snuggerud lost his composure for a few seconds.
“We cut it to four and I’m thinking, all right,” Ecker said. “Every team’s going to make that run and they were able to stop it. It didn’t help with the technical foul, that put three points on the board for them and they get the ball back. That’s kind of a run killer right there.”
Ecker said his senior guard felt bad about the technical.
“I think Calvin learned from it,” he said. “He’s a smart guy and a leader on our team. He feels bad about it, he’s not happy about it and he was talking to his teammates and felt it was kinda his fault. It’s not his fault — we have a team and we play together as a team and lose as a team.”
Banks hit three of the four free throws for a 56-49 lead and pretty much the rest of the game unfolded at the foul line.
“It’s correctable stuff if we keep working hard and I think we will,” Ecker said. “I don’t think we’ve been working hard enough in practice. Sometimes we sort of go through the motions and so that’s got to improve, too.”
Banks, a state tournament team last season that will be among the favorites to make a return appearance, attacks with a multi-threat roster. Six players stand 6-foot-2 or taller, including 6-7 senior Blake Gobel.
“They have a lot to guard and defense and we did a fairly decent job on them,” Ecker said. “We had some mental errors and mistakes in the second half — allowing baseline or allowing guys to go on the sideline.”
Philomath did pull enough a nice comeback in the first half. Down 18-7 after the first quarter, the Warriors tied it up by halftime with a 13-4 run over the final 3-1/2 minutes. A lot of those points came on free throws with the clock not moving. The Warriors had significantly more success at the stripe than in their season opener, hitting on 65 percent (they made just 46.4 percent at Junction City) for the game.
In addition to the foul shots, Lundy had an effective drive in the lane and Dylan Bennett scored after an offensive rebound during the run.
The game could be seen as a sort of measuring stick of sorts for the Warriors. Philomath has comparable talent and actually put a lineup on the floor Tuesday night with two key players missing.
“They’re a top two-, top-three team in the state and we’re missing Ethan (Manning) and Ben (Reams) — two guys that mean a lot to us,” Ecker said.
Manning would be in the starting lineup and Reams is a top player off the bench. Ecker believes both should be back for this coming Tuesday’s home game against Elmira.
Lundy hit for 13 points on five field goals and 3 of 4 free throws. Carter O’Hare scored nine on three 3-pointers, Stueve had eight and Brattain finished with seven, an indication of Philomath’s balanced attack.
The Warriors take the rest of the week off before the Dec. 11 game against Elmira. The team then heads to a Dec. 13-15 tournament at Marshfield.
Banks 61, Philomath 50
Tuesday at Philomath
BANKS (3-1) 18 10 22 11 — 61
PHILOMATH (1-1) 7 21 8 14 — 50
Banks: Jacob Slifka 5 2-2 14, Blake Gobel 3 7-8 13, Jarred Evans 4 0-0 10, Dakota Bunn 4 0-3 8, Bret Cameron 2 3-8 7, Hayden Vandehey 2 0-0 4, Nathan Klein 1 1-2 3, Joe Buliga 1 0-0 2, Ryan Hiestand 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 13-23 61.
Philomath: Michael Lundy 5 3-4 13, Carter O’Hare 3 0-0 9, Toby Stueve 3 2-4 8, Marshall Brattain 2 3-4 7, Calvin Snuggerud 1 3-4 5, Hayden O’Hare 0 4-6 4, Grant Hellesto 0 2-4 2, Dylan Bennett 1 0-0 2, Dakota Kantor 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 17-26 50.
Philomath 56, Banks 51
Tuesday at Philomath
BANKS 7 21 10 13 — 51
PHILOMATH 14 10 17 15 — 56
PHS scoring: Mark Grimmer 19, Jayden Williams 11, Dylan Edwards 8, Cole Matthews 7, Colby Roe 6, Levi Knutson 3, Dillon Olsen 2, Edgar Martinez 0, Mason Howard 0.
Team notes: Philomath’s JV goes to 2-0 on the season. … The Philomath JV team has won 18 straight games with the last loss coming Dec. 21, 2017 to Mountain View. … The Warriors trailed 28-24 at halftime before coming out strong in the third quarter to take the lead and then held on in the fourth. … Freshman Mark Grimmer’s 19 points included 17 of 26 at the free-throw line. … Banks attempted just 10 free throws compared to Philomath’s 44. … Philomath plays Tuesday at home against Elmira.
Junior Varsity II
Banks 46, Philomath 44
Tuesday at Philomath
BANKS 6 8 13 19 — 46
PHILOMATH 14 15 6 9 — 44
PHS scoring: Carson Gerding 9, Micah Poole 9, Garrett Hibbs 8, Marcos Garcia 5, Cameron Ordway 4, Dylan Bell 4, Caleb Jensen 3, Noah Aynes 2, Alek Russell 0, Logan Carter 0, Isaac Lattin 0, Braeden Riley 0.
Team notes: Philomath’s JVII drops to 1-1 with the loss. … The Warriors had balanced scoring with Carson Gerding and Micah Poole each scoring nine, Garrett Hibbs finishing with eight and five others hitting for points. … Philomath led 29-14 at halftime but was outscored 32-15 in the second half. … In the fourth quarter, the Braves buried three 3-pointers. … The game was delayed for several minutes with 1.9 seconds left in the game after freshman Marcos Garcia’s face was bloodied during action under the basket. Blood dripped onto the floor in several spots and had to be thoroughly cleaned before the contest could resume. … Philomath plays Tuesday at home against Elmira.