COOS BAY — Philomath head coach Blake Ecker issued a challenge to his team before it defeated North Bend in Friday’s boys semifinals of the Les Schwab and First Community South Coast Holiday Basketball Tournament.
“Our goal was to keep them under 20,” said Ecker. “Didn’t quite get to our goal but pretty close.”
While the Warriors didn’t keep the Bulldogs under 20, they kept them right at that score as Philomath was in control throughout the 35-20 wire-to-wire win. Philomath will now face Marshfield in Saturday’s championship at 5:45 p.m.
After a first quarter that saw seven combined turnovers and eight combined points, it was Philomath with a 6-2 advantage. The Warriors dialed up the pressure in the second quarter, switching to a 1-3-1 defense that made the Bulldogs uncomfortable. North Bend had 10 first-half turnovers.
“In the second quarter, I thought that we were a step slow on defense and that’s when they extended the lead,” said North Bend head coach Bill Callaway. “They took advantage. Got a couple extra shots, rebounds and drives to the lane which we didn’t give up in the first.”
The Warriors scored the first nine points of the second quarter as they went on to outscore North Bend 18-5. Ty May had eight points in the quarter for Philomath. May finished with a game-high 10 points while Dylan Edwards, who scored all of Philomath’s first-quarter points, finished with eight.
Scoring remained difficult for the Bulldogs in the third quarter as they entered the final period of play with 11 points on 4-of-21 shooting.
“They were packing the lane pretty good and they have a little bit more height than we do at every spot. So we were taking the shots they gave us and there were some good looks but a couple of them rimmed out and I think that was a factor,” said Callaway.
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Garrison Mateski finished with a team-high eight points for North Bend. Brady Messner had five points.
“That’s kind of what we do. I mean, that’s kind of what we’ve done in years past. Our defense creates a lot of offensive opportunities. On the offensive end, we did fine at times. Missed some easy looks but definitely that defense will get you going,” said Philomath’s Ecker.
With five players off the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs played a group of Philomath’s starters to a draw with each team scoring one point through the opening four and a half minutes of the quarter. North Bend’s Devante Byers had the team’s first field goal from someone other than Mateski and Myers at the 3:34 mark in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went on to outscore the Warriors 9-2 in the final quarter.
In both games of the tournament it has been North Bend struggling to find success early. In Thursday’s opener against Junction City it took the Bulldogs four minutes to see the ball go through the hoop and on Friday the first basket came at the 3:45 mark in the first quarter.
“I apologized (to the team), first of all, because I haven’t had the correct intensity and the fire that we need at practice,” Callaway said after Friday’s game. “Not that that’s an excuse for any of them because you need to motivate yourself to come out and play. They get one chance to do this in high school so let’s do it.”
The Bulldogs will now face Crook County in the third-place game on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at Marshfield High School. The Cowboys defeated La Salle Prep 50-40 on Thursday and lost to Marshfield 59-44 on Friday night.
“What’s great about basketball is you can see something different every night. We get another chance tomorrow night,” said Callaway. “So shake this one off, wash it off, it’s over. Let’s come back and start a new day.”