It’s been a while since we put an article out. Hopefully not too rusty.
The biggest question coming into the night was: can Philomath contain Cooper Gobel? The answer turned out to be yes (generally), but that ended up being an afterthought. Here’s what we saw:
- There are two ways to attack Philomath: speed them up, or beat them at their own game. The former requires a higher level of talent, being able to maintain a pace that few teams at the 4A level can achieve for even short bursts, and, usually, high-level perimeter shooting. This is what teams like Sweet Home, Woodburn, and even Seaside have done in the past. The other way, despite requiring potentially a lower minimum amount of talent, seemed more daunting of a task before the last week or so. To beat Philomath at their own game would mean being more physical, potentially slower, and less mistake-prone than one of the most physical, slow, and perennially high-IQ teams in the state. The latter of these two options Banks not only pulled off, but put on a clinic thereof.
- Cooper Gobel is a fantastic player and undoubtedly can be the best player on a championship team, but it’s not unreasonable to say Charlie White won the game tonight for Banks. For an athlete who’s most notable for his prowess on the football field, his IQ and ability on the basketball floor are nearly as impressive. His ability to pass, set effective screens, and, most importantly, stonewall opposing big men defensively is a player profile rarely found in the modern game. Similar to Dom Montiel for Marshfield, it’s arguable Charlie White is Banks’s most valuable player—and it showed tonight.
- White, along with Gobel and Michael Vereen, anchored the back end of a 2-3 zone that held Philomath behind the 3-point line from start to finish. Ty May and the Warrior posts never truly had an opportunity to go to work below the free-throw line. The Braves 2-3 zone forced up more three-pointers from the Warriors in a single game than we can remember. Banks did not play flawlessly, but their efforts on a defensive end, forcing Philomath to play a perimeter game and forcing turnovers, won them the game. In our view, Philomath did not necessarily lose the game, though their shot selection may justifiably lead others to suggest otherwise. Banks won this game and did so playing the Warriors’ own style of basketball. It wasn’t the Banks offense that won the day; it was their defense.
- Banks is not the most talented team in 4A—far from it. But, defensive performances like tonight could not only net them a trip to Coos Bay, but could get them a win or two once there. We may have been undervaluing Banks the last couple months.
- Philomath will be fine. They have the talent and the coaching not only to make the state tournament, but to win some games once there. The trouble for the Warriors after this game is going to be simple, but not easily fixable: it’s clear now that zone defenses will be a mainstay against them for the rest of the season. Finding a way to consistently gain positioning inside of zones, or being able to shoot their way into forcing their opponent out of it, will be the defining challenge for Philomath from now until the end of the season. Manufacturing more consistent three-point shooting this late in the season is such a daunting task that it’s most likely unachievable, so finding a different way, or a more consistent way, to attack a zone defense with the personnel at hand is going to be the defining challenge for Philomath the rest of the season. It is not impossible, but it is a steep hill to climb.