Baker's Paul Hobson (3) puts pressure on Philomath's Kaden Muir during Thursday's first half. (Photo by Jim Beseda)
Baker's Paul Hobson (3) puts pressure on Philomath's Kaden Muir during Thursday's first half. (Photo by Jim Beseda)

FOREST GROVE — There was a time when Baker’s boys basketball put a high-scoring offense ahead of a hard-nosed defense.

Now, it’s the other way around.

Baker still knows how to score the ball, but it was the Bulldogs’ defense that made the difference in a 51-30 victory over the Philomath Warriors in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 4A boys basketball championships at Forest Grove High School.

Hudson Spike finished with a team-high 12 points off the bench and Jaxon Logsdon added 10 points to help the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (26-1) advance to Friday’s 1:30 p.m. semifinals against two-time defending champion Cascade.

“That was amazing, getting our first win in the state tournament,” Logsdon said. “The key was coming in here with a clean mindset, forgetting the past, and playing with all heart and as a team.”

Baker coach Jebron Jones agreed.

“That felt good,” Jones said. “I was proud of the kids for playing hard all 32 minutes. The expectations coming in were to play harder than Philomath did and to be the tougher team tonight. I think we met those expectations and exceeded them as well.

“I think we wore Philomath down with our versatility and our depth. The guys bought in to playing defense first and not caring about who scores as long as we score and they don’t score.”

This one turned lopsided in a hurry. The Bulldogs led 15-6 at the end of the first quarter and then extended their advantage to 27-10 at the half.

The key to Baker’s quick start: A high-pressure defense that held Philomath to 10 first-half points on 26.3 percent shooting (5 of 19) from the field. The Bulldogs also enjoyed a 21-9 advantage in first-half rebounds, including an 8-2 edge on the offensive glass.

“I think we played harder than they did,” Jones said. “It was nothing really schematically. We knew what they could and couldn’t do, but I think whether we were playing man-to-man or zone, we stayed disciplined more times than not, which led to them taking forced shots with a hand in their face. Then we’d finish the possession with five guys boxing out a good majority of the time.

“We knew going into it that Philomath was a physical team and that was the challenge — to try and be more physical than them. I think we surprised them early with our physicality, but it didn’t surprise me.”

Philomath coach Blake Ecker said the shots the Warriors wanted early in the game just weren’t there.

“Our posts were open, but we had a hard time getting them the ball,” Ecker said. “And we felt that was our advantage — getting the ball inside and attacking it from there.

“It was partly because our posts weren’t as aggressive as they should have been in terms of sealing inside position. And then our guards just didn’t do a good job of ball faking and getting them the ball because of the pressure that Baker brought. That made it hard. It looks easy, but it’s not.”

Philomath’s Preston Kramer knocked down a jumper that cut Baker’s lead to 14 points, 41-27, with 4:40 to play in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors couldn’t get any closer than that in the second half.

Again, credit to the Baker defense.

“We’ve emphasized playing defense all year long,” Jones said. The last two years, we led the state in scoring and that got us over here, but it also got us two and out. So we started in the summertime emphasizing defense every single day and taking pride in playing defense, staying fundamental, and staying disciplined. It showed tonight and I hope it carries over to the semifinals, too.

“The boys were pretty confident today. I’m glad we got out to an early lead in the first game of the state tournament because they were nervous. We talked about being nervous and what it would take to get over the nervousness and execute.”

Kramer led all scorers with 16 points for Philomath and was the only player to score in double figures for the Warriors (19-7).

No. 1 Cascade 62, No. 8 Madras 36

Junior guard Landon Knox scored a game-high 26 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the field with four three-pointers, leading the two-time defending state champion Cougars past the cold-shooting White Buffaloes.

Cascade’s Anthony Best added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars (21-4), who will face Baker in Friday’s semifinal. 

“There’s always a lot of pressure to get that first one because you’re guaranteed hardware,” Cascade coach Justin Amaya said. “That’s what we talk about — winning our last game — so this puts us in the position to play two more and win that last one, no matter what place it is.”

Kaiden Ford finished with nine points, five rebounds, and three assists for the Cougars, who shot 39.3 percent (24 of 61) from the field, including 23.8 percent (5 of 21) from beyond the arc. Cascade also had a 27-22 edge in rebounds.

The Cougars, looking to advance to the finals for the fourth year in a row, jumped out to leads of 15-8 after one quarter, 26-13 at halftime, and 48-27 after three quarters.

“We have to rebound better and we can still play defense better,” Amaya said. “Our offense was a little out of control at times, but we did enough in certain moments to make some good plays.”

Madras’ Maikel Poland scored a team-high 12 points and Seneca Ball added 11 for the White Buffaloes, who shot 20 percent (4 of 20) from the field in the first half and 31.3 percent (10 of 32) for the game.

"That Madras boys team, they’re scrappy, they play hard, they shoot the ball well, and they want to speed to game up,” Amaya said. “The talk the last few days was to be disciplined and slow the game down. Anytime we played faster than we needed to, it benefitted Madras. And when we slowed the game down, it benefitted us.”

No. 2 Junction City 54, No. 7 Henley 45

Cooper Rothenberger scored seven of his game-high 16 points in the second half as the Tigers rallied from a nine-point deficit early in the third quarter to knock off the Hornets and advance to Friday’s semifinal against Marist Catholic.

Trailing 34-25, Junction City outscored Henley 15-8 over the final 6:16 of the third quarter, cutting the Hornets’ lead to 40-42 on Rothenberger’s jumper with a minute to play.

Riley’s lay-in to open the fourth quarter not only tied the game, but his bucket also touched off a 12-0 Junction City run that put the Tigers in front to stay.

So, what got into the Tigers?

Rothenberger, the 6-foot senior wing, pointed to his father, Junction City coach Bart Rothenberger, whose halftime speech pushed all the right buttons.

“We went into the locker room and Coach basically told us, ‘For you eight seniors, it’s your last go. Time to put up or shut up,’” Cooper Rothenberger said. “That kind of lit a fire under us and we came out the second half and brought a different energy.”

The Tigers also switched to a zone defense, which seemed to throw the Henley offense off balance as the Hornets went from shooting 70 percent (14 of 20) from the field in the first half to shooting 35.7 percent (5 of 14) in the second half. They also went from scoring 32 points in the first half to scoring 13 in the second half.

“Junction City is known for our man-to-man defense,” Cooper Rothenberger said. “We switched it up to zone and it hurt them. They couldn’t get the ball inside to their big guy as much and we were trying to force other guys to make plays.”

Markus McCreadie led Henley with 15 points and five rebounds, and Owen Harper added 12 points and six rebounds for the Hornets (16-8).

Another motivating force for Junction City: Craig Rothenberger, Cooper’s grandfather and the legendary Tigers coach who retired at the end of last season and is currently undergoing treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“That was another thing that lit a fire under us,” Cooper Rothenberger said. “For me and my dad, we were coming in like, ‘We’re going to do this for grandpa.’ He wasn’t able to be here tonight, but we expect him here tomorrow.”

No. 6 Marist Catholic 46, No. 14 Crook County 42

Taylor Iverson scored a team-high 11 points and Peyton Tyner added 11 points and five assists, pacing the Spartans of Eugene to a come-from-behind win over the Cowboys of Prineville.

Kai Holmes also scored 11 points and Kaden Erlenbush had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds for the Spartans (17-7), who rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second quarter to a berth in Friday’s against Sky Em League rival Junction City.

Crook County (17-8) jumped out to a 17-6 lead early in the second quarter, but the Cowboy’s early momentum didn’t last.

Marist Catholic closed to the half on a 15-8 run that cut Crook County’s lead to 25-21 at the break, and the Spartans continued to chip away from there.

Tyner knocked down a three-pointer to give Marist Catholic its first lead of the second half at 32-31 with 7:09 to play in the fourth quarter. That sparked an 8-0 that gave the Spartans all the breathing room they needed down the stretch.

Crook County’s Logan Matthews finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Bryce Lowenbach added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Tyson Martinez had eight points.