PHS girls basketball: Sage Kramer

Sage Kramer, seen here last season, is among the top returnees for the PHS girls basketball team, which opened practice early last week. Kramer earned the Oregon West Conference's Player of the Year honor following her freshman season.

The Week Ahead

Boys basketball — Blake Ecker heads into another season coaching the program and he’s working with his players for a challenging season opener Dec. 4 at defending champion Banks. The team was scheduled to host its annual pie auction on Tuesday of this week (occurred after the newspaper’s deadline).

Girls basketball — Coach Ben Silva’s team should be considered among the 4A contenders heading into the season and the Warriors are getting ready for their season opener on Dec. 4 against Banks. The game will be played in the PHS gym.

Wrestling — The PHS wrestling program is getting in shape for its season opener on Dec. 7 at the Perry Burlison Classic hosted by Cascade. The team will then head to the Hank Schmidlin Invitational at Banks on Dec. 11 — a new tournament on the slate this season.

Swimming — The swim team continues its preseason workouts at Clemens Community Pool under first-year coach Akari Seiner. The team can use the pool, including the hosting of meets with outside schools, although it remains closed to the public pending the hiring of a certified pool operator.

Five Things

• The swim team will begin its season a week later than the other winter sports with the Warriors to host the Rhonda Relays on Dec. 13. Joining Philomath in the meet will be Cascade, Stayton and Sweet Home.

• The school board approved through a consent agenda vote a two-year co-op agreement with Alsea High School for wrestling and softball. Alsea does not have enough athletes to field its own teams.

• An OSAA football ad-hoc committee has invited 27 schools to move down one classification for the 2020 and 2021 seasons — those with a winning percentage of .220 or lower. Philomath is one of six Class 4A schools that would have the option of going to 3A (the others are Junction City, McLoughlin, Molalla, Phoenix and Sisters). The schools have until Dec. 2 to notify the OSAA of their intentions. Coach and Athletic Director Tony Matta said early this week, “We do meet the criteria but I do not believe that we will (move down).”

• The girls basketball team lost important players off last year’s team to graduation but returns a solid group. A players list has not been gathered just yet but there were seven underclassmen on last season’s final roster. Sage Kramer attracted immediate attention during her freshman season and won the Oregon West Conference Player of the Year award.

• Paid assistant coaches approved as part of a consent agenda vote at the most recent school board meeting included Eddie Van Vlack (boys basketball), Aaron Schermerhorn (boys basketball), John Hanson (girls basketball), Malori Ambrose (girls basketball) and James Kohn (wrestling). Volunteer assistants are not included on this list. At the middle school level, basketball coaches approved included Amy Leonard (seventh-grade girls), Rick Bennett (seventh-grade boys) and Jim Hall (eighth-grade girls and boys).

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By the Numbers

25 — The number of days that will have passed in between Philomath High athletic contests. The volleyball, girls soccer and cross-country teams all wrapped up their seasons at state on Nov. 9 and the first competitions among the winter teams will be Dec. 4.

97 — The number of victories racked up by the boys basketball program over the past five seasons. That run includes 24-4, 25-3 and 20-6 during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. The team cooled off to 15-9 in 2017-18 and 13-12 in 2018-19.

3 — The number of Philomath wrestlers that qualified for state last season with two of those being underclassmen — Issiah Blackburn and Blaise Pindell. Brooks Stearns was the third qualifier (he placed fifth) and he graduated with the Class of 2019.

In the Books

80 years ago — Philomath High’s early history in athletics can be fascinating, such as this report on the 1939 squad. A banquet was held for the players in the high school’s home economics room with table decorations that included footballs and goalposts. The Hillbilly Band even performed.

Now, here’s a rundown of players from that season that competed (and were present at the banquet): Frank Gast, Robert Hermanson, Everett Dickerman, Weldon Davis, Eugene Hermanson, Bob Whiting, Clifford Robinson, Ben Griffith, Bob Ridenour, Ralph Bright, Russell Whiting, Bob Fox, Bill Ridenour, Kenneth Spees, June Miller, Darrel Errand, Jack Hulery, Don Davis, Jimmie Gee, LeRoy Thomas, Gale Zeal and B.J. Arbuckle.

The 1939 team was named “B” football champions and a state title banner hangs in the PHS gymnasium. The team had just defeated Hubbard for the “Western Oregon” title and would play at Arlington for the state championship. Philomath won that game, 7-6, on a third-quarter touchdown run by Don Davis.

Interestingly, Philomath only had an overall record that year of 6-4 with wins over Albany’s B team, Sweet Home, Springfield, Hubbard, Monmouth and Arlington and losses to Cottage Grove, Shedd, Toledo and Junction City. Not included among those results was a game early in the season over the Phi Sigma fraternity team.

The victory over Arlington was considered to be a huge upset. Arlington reportedly hadn’t lost in seven years and even more impressive, hadn’t lost at home in 11 years. It's not an official state title with those being the days before the OSAA.

Unfortunately, the game ball and trophy from the state championship went up in flames in the 1956 high school fire.

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