Plain and simple — the girls basketball team had a lot of fun Friday night.
The Warriors found a nice rhythm with their transition game, buried a lot of shots and shared the ball well. Philomath’s top three scorers hit double figures and all 13 players that suited up saw minutes in the 60-38 victory over Cascade.
And oh, by the way, Philomath burst out to a 16-0 lead before the visiting Cougars could find the basket.
“They’re a well-coached team and play hard on the defensive end,” first-year coach Ben Silva said. “We were just able to get out in transition early. They struggled with our pressure — they’re young and that was kind of our plan coming in and that was to really put pressure on the ball.”
Cascade historically has one of the best girls basketball programs in the state with veteran coach Mark Stevens at the helm. This season, Stevens has one senior, three juniors and seven, yes seven, freshmen on the varsity roster.
“We really played very well tonight, I felt, and we made it look a little bit easier than what it was,” Silva said. “Some shots were falling and as I told the girls, it’s fun to watch, out in transition and finding their teammates and doing a great job.”
Philomath has now won eight straight games with records of 3-0 in the Oregon West and 13-2 overall. The Warriors have won every one of those games during the streak by double digits.
Freshman Sage Kramer said it can be a challenge in those types of contests.
“Sometimes for me, it’s hard to keep going hard,” Kramer said. “I like to really just keep running the ball and coach is always yelling at me to pull up, run the play, and I’m like, OK. So it’s harder … I like the better competition, it’s more fun but this is our league and we’ll try to get better out of every game that we have.”
Junior Emma Pankalla was at the center of the 16-0 run to start the game with six points along with setting up the ball for her teammates. With 3:03 left in the quarter, Pankalla found Mia Rust for a basket and with a foul, turned into a three-point play for a 12-0 lead.
Riley Weaver’s drive to the basket, Lauren Berklund’s shot underneath and Kramer free throws were the other ways in which Philomath put points up early. Sydney Bradley’s jumpshot with 15 seconds left gave the team an 18-2 lead going into the second quarter. Cascade’s lone basket in the quarter came with 26 seconds left.
In the second, Philomath extended the lead although the Cougars started to hit more shots. The Warriors led by as many as 30 a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter, a stretch that included a lot of time at the free-throw line. In fact, Philomath only had one hoop in the fourth on a Lara Hunter basket with 49 seconds left.
Pankalla finished with a team-high 16 points, Kramer had 14 and Rust ended up with 13.
Cascade (5-7, 0-2) got 23 of its points out of freshman Ariel Tobiasson.
So with all of the blowouts, how will Philomath respond when going up against a tougher opponent? Although the team is hitting on all cylinders right now, Kramer said there is one part of the game that needs some work.
“The half-court plays would be a good thing to work on because we’re really good in the transition and we can do that against the not-so-good teams,” she said. “But when we go up against those hard teams, we really need to be able to score out of that and work together as a team and get good looks out of that.”
Silva knows the team’s been on a nice run but he also knows tougher days and challenges await in the future. Still, he exhibits a lot of confidence that the Warriors can get it done.
“To be honest, we haven’t had very many bad practice days — maybe one that I can really think of off the top of my head,” he said. “They come and the girls are having fun and they practice to make each other better and improve.”
Philomath makes the trip to Sisters Tuesday and then takes the rest of the week off. The Warriors won’t play at home again until Jan. 25 against Woodburn.
Philomath 60, Cascade 38
Friday at Philomath
CASCADE (5-7, 0-2) 2 12 13 11 — 38
PHILOMATH (13-2, 3-0) 18 16 18 8 — 60
Cascade: Ariel Tobiasson 8 7-9 24, Kenna Coleman 3 0-0 7, Abbie Barber 1 0-0 3, Camryn Boyles 1 0-0 2, Abbigail Cordero 1 0-0 2, Brookelyn Worst 0 0-0 0, Emma Bjorklund 0 0-0 0, Natalee Federico 0 0-0 0, Bailey Pedersen 0 0-0 0, Abigail Jeppsen 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 7-9 38.
Philomath: Emma Pankalla 7 1-4 16, Sage Kramer 4 6-8 14, Mia Rust 5 2-2 13, Sara Bradley 0 5-6 5, Lauren Berklund 2 0-0 4, Lara Hunter 1 1-2 3, Sydney Bradley 1 1-2 3, Riley Weaver 1 0-0 2, Rivers Nuno 0 0-0 0, Phaedra Hinds-Cook 0 0-0 0, Amie Russell 0 0-0 0, Olivia Jahn-McLaren 0 0-0 0, Kamden Combs 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 16-24 60.
Philomath 38, Cascade 20
Friday at Philomath
CASCADE 6 8 4 2 — 20
PHILOMATH 10 14 8 6 — 38
PHS scoring: Kaili Saathoff 8, Phaedra Hinds-Cook 6, Kamden Combs 5, Alexis Van Vlack 4, K Bacho 4, Lara Hunter 3, Reagan Larson 3, Kiya Smith 3, Rivers Nuno 2.
Team notes: The JV team’s record goes to 11-1 on the season. … Philomath built a 24-14 lead by halftime and then allowed only six points the rest of the game to the visiting Cougars. … Kaili Saathoff’s team-high eight points included 4 of 6 from the free-throw line. … Philomath shot 66.7 percent from the foul line for the game (12 of 18). … The team plays at Sisters Tuesday.