The Falcons are shorthanded, but they continue to excel

With his team sporting a 9-2 record and a second-in-the-state RPI ranking, La Salle Prep’s boys basketball coach Jared Curtiss says he is pleased with the way his charges have played in preseason.

“Each game this season, with the exception of perhaps the Philomath game, we’ve competed hard,” he said. “When you graduate nine of the ten best players from a year ago, as we have, you worry about competing when things and opponents get tough.... We went 5-1 without [junior guard Valois] Gashongore. He’s a team captain and plays about 25 minutes a game.... We’ve added to our already solid bench each game this year. We’re excited for league and Season Two.”

The Falcons’ lone losses this year came at the hands of Philomath (45-32) in a Jan. 4 game at Philomath; and to Valley Catholic (42-35), the No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A, in a Dec. 12 game with the Valiants.

La Salle (9-2) begins league play next Tuesday, hosting cross-town rival Gladstone (9-2), which is ranked No. 4 in 4A.

La Salle Prep’s boys basketball team put two more games in the win column last week, winning 54-51 at Seaside and 52-35 at Astoria.

They nearly let the game with unheralded Seaside get away from them. They led 33-23 at halftime and they stretched the lead to 13 points on a 3-pointer by freshman Matt Berger near the midpoint of the third period.

But the Fishermen trimmed the lead to three points with 25 seconds remaining in the game, when the Falcons struggled to make free throws. They were 1-for-5 from the line at crunch time.

Chris Dowhaniuk hit a huge 3-pointer midway through the fourth period that proved pivotal in the Falcon win.

“We had to survive sickness, being short-handed [the absence of starting guard Valois Gashongore] and Seaside’s shooting [50 percent from the field] to get us a close road win,” said Curtiss. “Seaside shot the ball better than any team I’ve faced as a head coach at La Salle. I think most of it was execution, but some of it was fatigue and illness. Not having Valois hurt us a little in the short term. But in the long term, it helped us build confidence in our bench.”

Six-foot-seven senior post Keeston Smith (19 points) was the only Falcon in double digits in scoring.

The Falcons put together one of their better games last Friday at Astoria. Smith (16 points), 6-5 freshman post Matthew Berger (11 points) and 6-4 senior post Thomas Callahan dominated the inside play, while the Falcon guards were money from the outside.

La Salle made 6-of-11 shots from downtown. Senior wing Luke Kolln, junior wing Reece Wible and Berger each hit a pair of treys.

La Salle coeds

improve to 10-1

Ranked fifth in the state in last week’s Class 4A high school girls basketball poll, the La Salle Prep Falcons continued tough in games last week, defeating fifth-ranked Seaside 48-43, and routing Astoria 76-15.

It was only the second loss in 10 games this season for Seaside, which scored nine points below its season average.

The Falcons sported a preseason record of 10-1 heading into their Jan. 14 preseason final with Elmira, their only loss coming in a Jan. 2 game at seventh-ranked Henley (56-46).

Through their first 11 games, the Falcons averaged 72 points an outing, to just 38 points by their opponents.

The Falcons begin Tri-Valley Conference play next Tuesday, when they play cross-town rival Gladstone (7-5) on the road.

Senior post Andrea Novak (11 points) and senior wing Morgan McSmith (11 points) led a balanced effort in the win over the Seagulls.

The Falcons took charge of the game early, building an 18-12 lead in the first quarter and a 32-19 advantage by the halftime break.

“Seaside is a very solid team and we knew going in that we would have to defend in the half court for 32 minutes,” said La Salle coach Kelli Wedin. “With the exception of a couple of minutes in the third quarter, where we missed some rebounding assignments and allowed them to get the offensive board and put-back — for the other 29 to 30 minutes, we were tough on the defensive end and we made Seaside work hard for every scoring opportunity.”

Wedin singled out McSmith for her defensive play on Seaside star guard Kaitlin Lewis: “Morgan had our toughest defensive assignment. She rose to the challenge and was able to lock Lewis down, holding her to only four points.”

The game with the Fishermen was a mismatch from the start. La Salle was up 32-5 at the intermission. The Falcons had no fewer than 25 steals, and they had 26 assists on 31 baskets.

Senior wing Sterling Swift got out on the fast-break often and finished with a game-high 19 points, hitting 8-of-12 shots from the floor — with two 3-point baskets.

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