By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– With the Oregon West Conference entering its second go-around, Tuesday’s rematch between Cascade and Philomath was going to be the one the conference will be keeping an eye on. Keeping an eye on especially after the Warriors handed the Cougars just their third loss of the season back on January 7 in Philomath and the quiet possibly the OWC Title on the line as the two teams met in Turner.
With how physically and mentally taxing this league could be, there’s no nights off as Philomath came out with the same intensity as they left off their 51-48 victory with. They caught the Cougars in a lull from the opening tip only to see Cascade pull even by quarters end at ten in the Cougars 40-36 home victory.
By halftime, Philomath led 23-17 behind Ty May’s eight points, a total that held true by games end as the Cascade defense shutdown the junior in the second half. Entering the second half, the Cougars had slowly waken up a hair despite giving up a half-ending 6-2 run and a few missed opportunities down the stretch of the opening half.Samuel Horne was a major vocal point in the stronger finish to the half than how they began behind his physical play and shooting ability.
“We normally don’t have the best start. Usually our first reaction with the slow starts is go harder. It was huge for us to respond in a way faster way, The atmosphere was great and it helped us with the win,” Horne said. “Just got to have the mindset that ‘we got to win this. We got to win this’. Subs go (in) go all out, go back in and go all out.”
With their top and third option in Kellen Sande and twin-brother Spencer Horne held scoreless, Sande getting a point off a free throw in the fourth quarter, Samuel Horne stepped up big with 11 of his 15 points coming in the opening half. Feeding off of how the first half ended, the Cougars started the second half off strongly, carrying over the momentum from the first half to spark a 14-2 run to start the third quarter.Defense led into the offense, but as they held a 31-25 lead, back-to-back three’s by Philomath drew the squads even going into the fourth tied at 31.
Both teams didn’t want to squander the opportunity to either possibly put league away if you’re the Warriors, or adding more pressure if you’re Cascade to see who’s standing on top by the end of the regular season.
“This is without a doubt our most important game in league. Just us a team, we had to get it together because in the first half we lost 11 offensive rebounds,” starts the Cougars Ty Best. “We went on a run in the third and held it out to the end. We could’ve done better in the first half and made it so it wasn’t so hard in the second half. We weren’t taking a lot of shots in the beginning, so there were a lot of forced shots and we finally figured it out.”
The Cougars didn’t let off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter, finishing the game strongly as they now have a week to heal up from Tuesday’s battle and prepare before they head to Stayton on February 8 with a game with the Eagles.
“We need to rebound, we gave up 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and probably got half their points from them so we need to work on rebounding. Work ethic in the first quarter. We need to come out like the team we are and show them who we are from the get-go,” Samuel Horne said.
Best contributed 14 points and Dom Ball added another eight for the Cougars. Cole Beardsley had a team-high 11 points for the Warriors as eight Philomath players recorded at least two points in the contest. The Warriors host Sweet Home Friday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald