Philomath’s seventh-grade boys basketball team won the state title in its division last weekend with a 48-44 victory over a team out of Barlow.
Philomath opened the state tournament March 9 with victories over the other two teams in its pool. Philomath defeated Beaverton White, 55-31, and Madras, 52-44.
Advancing into bracket play, Philomath rolled over Lake Oswego Thieleke, 54-34, in a March 9 night game and then the following morning defeated Woodburn, 63-57, to reach the finals against Barlow Fraser.
"We were down 20-6 in the first 10 minutes," coach Rick Bennett said about the title game. "By halftime, we were down 26-22, and I told the kids, 'hey guys, you are going to give up 20 points or less in the second half."
Sure enough, the team came through and held the Barlow team to 18 points in the second half while winning by four.
The seventh-grade school team went 10-0 in regular season games and the tournament team entered state with a record of 21-3. With the results at state, the program in total had a record of 36-3.
"Defense was our team's strength," Bennett said. "We coached a bunch of kids with high character that were extremely coachable."
Helping Bennett with the team were assistant coaches Troy Muir, Doug Oxsen and Spencer Bennett.
"Basically, we run everything that the high school runs ... teach them all of the high school stuff," Bennett said. "It was a lot of fun with the kids, a great experience."
The team roster included Preston Kramer, Kaden Muir, Connor Harms, Jacob Peters, Owen Heiken, Mason Stearns, Kash Lindsey, Tristan Hubbard, Rowan Penix, Elijah Smith and Kallen Albin.
Philomath’s eighth-grade team also played at the state tournament and placed fourth. The squad opened March 8 with a 49-20 win over Amundson, a team from West Linn. The next day, Philomath defeated Crane, 62-46, but then lost to Jefferson, 61-48.
The eighth-graders played late on the morning of March 10 against Woodburn and lost 57-44 to the Bulldogs, the team that would go on and win the state title. Philomath then dropped the third-place game against Gladstone, 58-55.