There’s something romantic about blue collar towns. Sweet Home and Philomath are communities both built off the sweat and blood of hard labor, and are relatively easy to root for to the casual observer. Philomath and Sweet Home on the basketball court, however, are polar opposites.
The Huskies push the pace, feed off turnovers, and trap at the very scent of blood. The Warriors like to, arguably have to, play a low possession game, win the rebound battle, never shoot a bad shot, and to hell with a high scoring game unless it comes by means of a blow out in their favor. The question coming into this game was who would win the battle over the pace of play (we even tweeted about it beforehand). The winner? Well, that takes some explaining.
Our takeaways from Philomath hosting Sweet Home:
- The pace of play thing was in flux the whole time. It looked like the Huskies were going to run away with it at one point in the first, up 15-8 near the end of the quarter. 15 points in a quarter is way above the quota Philomath can allow per 8 minutes. Philomath is 8-0 when they allow 42 points or less, but was only 1-2 coming into the game when they allowed more than that. 15 points in one quarter would but the Huskies on track for 60 total, a score only Willamette (5A) has achieved against the Warriors (63). Philomath went on a quick 6-0 run to end the quarter only down 14-15, but the point still remained about Sweet Home’s offensive output. 14 points for the Warriors in the first put them on pace for 56 points total. Considering Philomath had only achieved 56 or more points 3 times up til tonight, it was evident Philomath was playing catch up in a game they could ill-afford to do so.
- The second quarter fit Philomath much more. The 14 points Philomath scored and Sweet Home’s 13 weren’t much of a deviation from their first quarter totals, but the way they got them did. Philomath slowly started to throttle down the pace. At one point Sweet Home passed the ball around the perimeter, unsuccessfully getting a free shot at the rim or from the arc for a solid 90-110 seconds. That felt like the moment Philomath took control, or at least stopped the bleeding. The game was being played more on the Warriors terms now. You want to score? You’re going to have to work your tail for a long period of time to do it, or score faster than they can run back on defense. Otherwise, you might as well throw it up from deep and pray.
- One moment in the third quarter caught our attention, and nobody else noticed it. Partially because they weren’t looking, but also because we had a pretty good vantage point. During a time out late in the third quarter, Philomath was on a run. Philomath was up almost double digits, and Sweet Home couldn’t buy a bucket even though some of their shots were fairly open. In the Husky huddle, coach Drew Emmert was rapidly drawing on his white board, talking about whatever he was talking about with a ferocity that was noticeable from the top row of the bleachers. On the other end of the floor, coach Blake Ecker was talking calmly, no big emotions, and very slowly, emphasis on slowly, drawing on his white board. It sounds like the most ridiculous thing to make a point about, but it’s the perfect embodiment of both teams. Philomath; slow, meticulous, efficient, calm, never panic. Sweet Home; speed, quickness, dictation, swagger. Neither is wrong, neither one is better than the other, just found it fascinating. Philomath would lead after three quarters, 44-38.
- The fourth quarter was more less Philomath trying to hold on. As the clock ticked away, Sweet Home got more desperate. As Sweet Home got more desperate, the pace of play naturally got faster and faster. As the pace of play got faster and faster, the more Philomath got uncomfortable. The more Philomath got uncomfortable, the more they turned the ball over and made mistakes. From 6:30 left to 3:00 left, Sweet Home had the pace they wanted. The problem was they couldn’t hit shots, and Philomath would not panic. Uncomfortable yes, panic no. There was a legitimate question being discussed before the game on whether Philomath could handle a frantic pace of play and still compete, the answer is yes. The pace favored Philomath for more time of the game, but the pace was never truly decided. Two 90 second possessions (total of 3 minutes) last longer than the five 25 second possessions (two minutes and 5 seconds) , it’s simple math. In other words, the answer wasn’t can Philomath win the pace of play battle, but could they keep Sweet Home from winning it.
- The “bigger question” we referenced to in our tweet of the final score of this game was just that. The answer: Philomath in a mixed pace game can win. That’s a huge development. Philomath doesn’t have to play you in a phone booth, though that’s their preference, they can play you in a gym and win outright. That puts them in the top 5 conversation instantly.
- Oh yea, Philomath won the game 57-50. If you play the averages, Philomath did something they don’t do often: win a game while giving up 50+ points. Playing the averages will work over the course of the season when measuring probabilities, but tonight Philomath took a step to changing the averages, that’s huge.
- Sweet Home is fine. They need some time to regroup, but make no mistake, this was a game between two, at least possible if not likely, Forest Grove bound teams. Losing back to back games to Woodburn and Philomath is nothing to panic over.
Side note: we won the 50/50 raffle at the game tonight, gave the money back to the high school. If you are at a game and enter a 50/50 raffle, we hope you do the same if you win. Unless you’re desperate for money, let the kids keep it. $33 is a drop in the bucket, but every penny counts for most high schools.