Coming into Friday night's game against visiting Stayton, the Philomath High School girls basketball team had certain goals in mind.
For starters, the Warriors wanted to clamp down on the No. 6-ranked Eagles with an effective defensive effort. And as it turned out, the visitors had to fight for every point.
But offensive benchmarks for Philomath fell short in a 32-26 loss. The Warriors had good looks at the hoop on high-percentage opportunities but the ball just wouldn't fall with any regularity.
"We just never found a rhythm offensively," PHS interim coach Shelly Brown said. "Our running plays, we just seemed stagnant, so that's something we'll definitely be working on in practice — moving the ball, taking those open shots without hesitation, making passes without hesitation.
"But our defense was phenomenal tonight and I'm proud of the girls for that," she added.
The Warriors have been working their way through the difficult off-court situation involving the resignation of Dave Garvin, the only varsity head coach any of them had ever played for at Philomath.
"I'm so impressed. I feel like after this week, seeing them show up every single day and work hard Tuesday night and tonight, they gave us all they had," Brown said. "I think it'll come around."
Philomath remains winless in the Oregon West Conference at 0-6. The Warriors almost certainly would have victories if in any other conference this season. The league is the only one in the state with all six teams ranked among the OSAA's top 20.
"Right now, I think we're just playing for pride," Brown said, the Warriors ranked No. 18 despite a 9-10 overall record. "This is such a talented team, it's just a matter of putting it all together."
In a low-scoring, tight affair, Philomath never led but the Warriors also never trailed by more than nine. Stayton doubled the points on PHS in the opening period, 10-5, but the Eagles would score seven, eight and seven over the remaining three quarters.
The defense was solid throughout. During one sequence in the first quarter, for example, junior Lauren Berklund and senior Haidyn Ecker both had blocked shots on the same Stayton possession. It served as a warning about what the Eagles could expect if attempting to drive the lane.
Stayton led 17-11 at halftime, the difference being 3-pointers late in the first and midway through the second. Philomath trailed by just four with seconds remaining but the Eagles forced a turnover into a layup at the buzzer.
In the third quarter, Stayton got out to its biggest lead of the game at nine points but Philomath fought back in the final period to make things interesting.
The Warriors went on a 5-0 run to cut their deficit to 27-23 with 4:54 left in the game, all of those points coming from Berklund on an inside shot, free throw and a long 2.
Stayton got the lead back up to eight before freshman Braedyn McNeely's 3-pointer with 2:03 left cut it to five. But that would be it for the Warriors' offense.
Sophomore Emma Pankalla led all scorers with 11 points and Berklund added 10. In fact, those two players accounted for 81 percent of the team's points.
Berklund has been producing more offense lately to go along with her typical tough play inside.
"She just is kind of a quiet player but she goes in and gets it done," Brown said. "Her 3-point shot is getting better and she's always been really aggressive, so she's becoming one of those versatile players who's just going to be a huge threat."
The team's offensive issues have been an unfortunate trend for the Warriors.
"Our defense has come such a long ways and I think we've been saying for a couple of years now, 'we need you guys to take shots,'" Brown said. "I don't think there are many coaches in the country who have to ask their players to shoot the ball."
Come practice Monday, Brown said working on shooting will be a primary focus.
"They want to make that extra pass, wait for that cut to come through and in that way, they're being such good teammates but at the same time, a good teammate's going to take the open shot," Brown said. "So we will push in practice to be practicing at game speed so those shots fall."
Philomath's next game will be Friday at home against Newport. The opening tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Stayton 32, Philomath 26
Friday at Philomath
STAYTON (14-5, 4-2) 10 7 8 7 — 32
PHILOMATH (9-10, 0-6) 5 6 5 10 — 26
Stayton: Alexa Bender 4 0-0 9, KJ Nyquist 3 2-4 8, Marri Martinez 1 4-6 6, Alli Nyquist 1 2-5 4, Genevieve Frith 1 0-0 3, Holly McGill 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Smart 0 0-0 0, Lexi Smart 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-15 32.
Philomath: Emma Pankalla 3 5-6 11, Lauren Berklund 4 1-2 10, Braedyn McNeely 1 0-0 3, Reiley Reichhuber 1 0-0 2, Hailey Matthews 0 0-0 0, Riley Weaver 0 0-0 0, Haidyn Ecker 0 0-0 0, Bree Couture 0 0-0 0, Mia Rust 0 0-0 0, Olivia Jahn-McLaren 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 6-8 26.
Philomath 40, Stayton 22
Friday at Philomath
STAYTON 10 6 3 3 — 22
PHILOMATH 5 11 9 15 — 40
PHS scoring: Emma Matthews 10, Sydney Bradley 7, Amie Russell 6, Phaedra Hinds-Cook 6, Rivers Nuno 5, Sara Bradley 2, Kaili Saathoff 2, Kamden Combs 2.
Team notes: Philomath remains unbeaten on the season with a 19-0 record. ... Stayton's only JV losses this season in the Oregon West came to Philomath. ... The Warriors trailed 10-5 after the first quarter and tied the game by halftime, 16-16. ... In the second half, PHS outscored the Eagles, 24-6, allowing just two baskets. ... Emma Matthews was the only player on either team to hit double figures and score in every quarter. ... The team plays Friday at home against Newport.
Junior Varsity II
Philomath 48, Stayton 27
Friday at Philomath
Team notes: Philomath's JVII team remains unbeaten with a 10-0 record. ... JVII coach Stacey Barnes said the ballclub "had a slow first half but picked it up in the second with better defense and playing as a whole team." ... Kaili Saathoff scored 16 points and Jordyn Foster finished with 12. ... The JVII team will play Friday at home against Newport.