Lebanon — In a New Years Eve showdown in Lebanon, the top ranked Warriors of Philomath looked to keep perfection with a win over 5A #7 Lebanon on the road. Lebanon entered the New Year’s Eve showdown sporting a 5-2 record, including a conference opening win over Corvallis. Philomath entered at 8-0 and absolutely dominant victories in six of those eight wins. The Warriors got punched in the mouth by Lebanon, who seized control for most of this one, but when it counted most Philomath found a way to escape back home with an unblemished record.
This game was pretty even to get going, as the teams traded layups and treys over the first few minutes of the contest on their way to an early 10-7 Lebanon lead. Philomath put together a 6-0 run to take the lead 13-10, but a three point play by Hallie Jo Miller knotted it back up at 13 each. The teams would battle to a 17-17 match after one quarter of play. Lebanon opened up the second quarter with a 4-0 run to take a 21-17 lead, and after a Rivers Nuno three point play, Lebanon got an 8-0 scoring run going and took a firm 29-19 lead over the top ranked Warriors. Philomath and Lebanon would trade punches for the rest of the half, and Lebanon held a firm 39-29 lead at the half.
Lebanon opened the second half hot, getting a pair of buckets from Taylor Edwards and Mary Workman to make it a 43-29 advantage. Philomath, plagued by turnovers and poor shooting, finally turned the corner and found their groove. Emma Pankalla got the party started with a trey, and was followed up with an 8-0 scoring run to wipe the advantage all the way from 43-29 to 43-40 in a blink of an eye. Lebanon would pick up some momentum as the quarter closed, but Philomath had closed to within 49-46 after three quarters.
Philomath wasted no time to open the fourth quarter, as Pankalla hit back to back treys to hand Philomath their first lead since the first quarter, and the Warriors led 52-49. Leading 54-49, Lebanon got a pair of free throws to make it 54-51, but a Sage Kramer bucket made it 56-51. Workman closed Lebanon within 56-54 with a clutch trey with around four minutes left in regulation. Trailing 57-55 with less than a minute left, Hollie Johnson came up with the biggest bucket of the season for Lebanon, drilling a corner trey to give the Warriors the lead back 58-57. After a failed scoring chance on the other end, Lebanon had a chance to extend the lead late, but they missed the front end of a 1-1 opportunity. That miss and subsequent Philomath rebound led to a sequence that finished with a Braedyn McNeely dish to Mia Rust for the go-ahead layup and a 59-58 Philomath lead. Kramer hit a pair of clutch free throws late to ice it, and the Warriors picked off Lebanon’s last ditch play with a second left to seal the victory 61-58 over Lebanon.
Emma Pankalla led Philomath with 18 points, Phaedra Hinds-Cook contributed 12 points for the Warriors. With an undefeated season preserved, Philomath’s Emma Pankalla and hero Mia Rust discussed the lackluster opening half, second half adjustments, and getting ready for the rest of the season.
Emma Pankalla on the second half defensive adjustments, “We usually run with our 1-3-1, but then we’ll switch to five or full-court man to man. We communicated it and we all know what we’re going to be doing, we call it out so everybody knows and is in it, so yeah we try to throw different things at teams so they’re forced to change their game plan.”
Mia Rust on the lackluster first half, “I think we just came out a little too confident, we weren’t really focused, we were sitting for a long time, and then it took us getting chewed out at halftime to come out strong and on top.”
Emma Pankalla on keys to consistency heading into conference, “We all have to play together, we can’t do it by ourselves. We work a lot on working as a team, and I think that shows when we play and play together. We have to keep that aspect in our mind, and just keep working hard, fly around on defense, and just do what we do.”
Mia Rust on their offensive successes, “We always focus on going inside out because we work them inside and it opens up our guards who are really good at shooting threes. Even our post can shoot threes, so working it in and getting it out really gets us layups and threes.”
Philomath (9-0) travels to Hidden Valley on Friday, Lebanon (5-3, 1-0) travels to Dallas next Tuesday.