By Jeremy McDonald
PHILOMATH, Ore.– Philomath and Cascade each had that one phrase stuck in their minds of ‘Don’t Quit’ in their Oregon West Conference finale Monday Night at Philomath High School.
What was at stake this evening was a lot. The OWC Title, the Warriors looking for their fair share being Co-Champions with the defending 4A Champions in the Cougars. The squad from Turner, however, were looking to keep not their perfect League Season alive, but also to win the Conference title outright again for the third-straight season.
The Warriors jumped out first to a quick 7-0 lead to open the game. It was their Senior Night with the town out to support them loudly and proudly. Challenging the Cougars right off the bat to take the Title from them on their own home court.
“It’s competitors you know on both sides. It’s what we do, we like to compete and that ‘No Quit’ mentality and go out. Both sides wanted to beat each other and it made for a helluva game,” Philomath’s Ty May said. “It’s a battle, I think we’re the two toughest teams in the State. I know Cascade lost a tough one to Baker…but it’s going to make it a good tournament ball. 4A is going to be a good tournament. Whenever you made a shot, you heard the crowd roar and it was a great student section that we had. There’s nothing to describe it, your adrenaline is going, it’s like nothing else.”
Cascade answered with their first eight points coming from sophomore Landon Knox. Those eight points were crucial in settling down the Cougars, who were back in the thick of things in the game as they would too build themselves a three-possession lead at 28-20 late into the second quarter. Returning the challenge back to Philomath, who cut it to 34-31 going into the halftime break.
From there, both squads traded blows like an old-fashioned heavyweight bout. It is expected that Round 3 could come along at some point in the 4A Postseason, but that could wait for now as the Warriors regained the lead. Leading as much as 52-48 with 6:25 left in the game before the Cougars swung momentum back into their favor three-and-a-half-minutes later leading 59-56.
“We put it up on the board before the game, ‘No Quit’. We knew they were going to come out, play hard and give us everything they got. We were saying, no matter what happens in the game, we’re going to come together as a team and we’re not going to quit’,” Knox starts. “They’re a really good team, they’re a team that’s going to go far in the playoffs and State. They’re going to go on runs and we were expecting that, we just came together as a team and we didn’t quit. It was a good team win.”
May drew the Cougars back in with a pair of Free Throws, Knox split a pair with 41.3 remaining before Sam Horne pushed the lead to 62-58. Philomath hit a massive three before Knox made it back to a three-point lead with a piar at the line with seven seconds remaining. Strong defense by the Cougars over those final seven seconds helped Cascade lock up the OWC Title outright as the squads await to see who they’ll each play to open up the 4A State Playoffs next week knowing that the job is not done yet and plenty of work ahead for each of these two great teams.
“It’s a good game to go into the playoffs with…but the jobs not finished yet, we still have to go and play our play-in game (to the Final Site), so it’s not done yet,” Cascade’s Kaiden Ford said.
“Definitely moving forward our Man Defense, we can tighten that down a little bit. Get out on shooters a little more, just keep the pressure on defensively,” adds May.
Knox led the Cougars with 23 points, Sam Horne contributed 18 points in the 64-61 victory with Ford scoring nine points off the bench. May and Cole Beardsley each finished with 13 points for the Warriors. Philomath’s Kaiden Muir contributed 11 points and Jacob Peters contributed another 12.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald