They save their best for their cross-town rivals

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Gladstone junior guard Handsome Smith splits the defense of La Salles Luke Kolln (20) and Michael Edwards in a Tri-Valley Conference first-round game at La Salle. Smith was the hero in last weeks second-round conference game with the Falcons, driving the lane for his only field goal in the closing seconds to gain the Gladiators a 45-43 upset of their rivals.Feb. 12 was a huge night for Gladstone High School boys basketball.

The then fifth-ranked Gladiators knocked off top-ranked La Salle 45-43, avenging an earlier loss and earning themselves a tie with the Falcons for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference standings.

“We were a completely different team emotionally from the last time we played La Salle,” said Gladstone coach Ted Yates. “I was just really impressed with our kids. We were focussed. We didn’t let minor things get in our way....

“Even though 14 guys didn’t play, 14 guys won this game. It was a testament to how we practice. Everybody did what they needed to do. When kids came off the bench so our starters could get a breather, we didn’t lose anything. I think we had fun playing basketball tonight....

“Last time we played them we played hard, but we didn’t handle our emotions. This time we controlled our emotions and we played hard. Playing hard is something this group always does.... We still have room to improve, and the kids know that. But when we do those two things, control our emotions and play hard, we can play with anyone.”

“I thought it was the best game we’ve played all year,” said Gladstone senior leader Trevor Browning. “Every single player, whether they were on the bench or on the floor, contributed. Props to our bench. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Asked what was different from the last game with their rivals [a 49-39 loss], Browning said, “This time we played a lot looser. In the first game, we were tight. This time we were looser and the game was a lot quicker paced, the way we like it.”

Last week’s game was similar to the earlier game between the two teams, except for the ending. Gladstone led most of the way, after taking the lead early in the second period.

In last week’s game, the Falcons stayed close and they battled back to tie things up with two minutes to play. The game was then a dogfight to the end.

La Salle junior post Keeston Smith hit two free throws to knot the score at 43-43 with 13 seconds to go.

Seconds later, Gladstone junior Handsome Smith found himself double-teamed and he dished off to teammate Ryun Gibson. Gibson passed back to Smith near the top of the key; Smith drove the lane and made a lay-up with 1.8 seconds to play, gaining Gladstone the 45-43 hard fought victory.

Ironically it was Handsome Smith’s only field goal of the game, although the junior playmaker had four assists.

Senior guard Ryan Fowler (12 points) was the only Gladstone player in double figures in scoring, although nine Gladiators contributed points to the winning tally. Fowler was 6-of-8 from the field, doing most of the damage in the paint.

The win was all the more sweet for the Gladiators because one of their top offensive players, Ryun Gibson, got in early foul trouble and spent a good deal of time on the bench.

Fowler (3 steals) and Smith (3 steals) headed up a stellar team defensive performance that forced 22 La Salle turnovers.

Luke Kolln (11 points) and Reece Wible (10 points) were the top point-getters for the Falcons.

The Gladiators went 20-for-43 from the field, with two 3-point baskets; the Falcons were 18-of-37 from the field, with six 3-pointers.

The taller Falcons claimed a 25-19 advantage in rebounding.

It was only the third loss of the season for La Salle, which lost to Valley Catholic 42-35 in early December and to Philomath 45-32 in early January.

It was Gladstone’s fifth straight win in league, after the 49-39 setback in a Jan. 21 game at La Salle.

“This win was big,” said Yates. “It gives us a shot at the league title or a piece of the league title. And a league title means you go straight to the state playoffs.”

“I think both of our teams — Gladstone and us — can get a rubber match in the state-title game,” said La Salle coach Jared Curtiss.

“That would be an amazing experience and I could definitely see it happen,” said Browning. “We are both top five teams and I could see us getting there. That would be amazing!”

Gladstone had a bit of a letdown last Friday, following the emotional win over La Salle, winning a slow-down game at Estacada by only 11 points, 40-29.

“They slowed things down and made their 3’s, and we rushed things,” said Yates. “They controlled the tempo.”

The Gladiators led 16-8 at halftime, but it was still a five-point game with three minutes to play.

“Even though they played us close, we were in control,” Yates said. “We had some great looks and we missed some point-blank shots.... We played with poise. Austin Galvin and Trevor Browning hit 4-of-4 free throws down the stretch.”

Justice Fridell (12 points), Browning (10 points), Galvin (10 points) and Gibson (8 points) did all of the Gladiators’ scoring. Smith had four assists.

The Gladiators were a lukewarm 15-of-41 from the field.

Browning (5 steals) and Galvin (4 steals) headed up a defensive effort that resulted in 18 Ranger turnovers.

Gladstone boys host Madras (9-12, 2-5) this Thursday. They finish up the TVC league season next Tuesday, when they entertain North Marion (12-9, 4-3).

Gladstone girls last Friday got back on track, bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss to La Salle with a 52-42 win at Estacada.

Molly Webster

lights them up

Molly Webster showed up big-time on Friday, scoring a career-high 32 points, just one point shy of Gladstone’s all-time school record (33 points, Jana Barmore, 1985-86).

Webster was 12-of-26 from the field, with three 3-point baskets, and she hit 5-of-7 free throws. She also had four steals.

Defense was pivotal, as the Gladiators forced close to 30 turnovers. Mikaela Simac had a team-high five steals; Fiona Burrell had four steals.

Gladstone led nearly all the way, but Estacada kept things close by hitting 21-of-29 charity tosses.

Gladstone girls (14-7, 5-2) entered play this week ranked 14th in the state in the OSAA rankings. They close out the regular season playing at 15th-ranked Madras (14-7, 5-2) on Friday and at North Marion (7-14, 1-6) on Tuesday, Feb. 25. They handled Madras 62-40 in the first round of the league season.

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