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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Falcons take down Jesuit and Barlow on way to summer tournament title

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - La Salle Prep point guard Emily Niebergall beats a crowd of black shirts down the floor to finish a fast break during the Falcons 53-46 win over Jesuit at a summer tournament Saturday hosted by Centennial High.

Centennial High girls tournament

Team Score
La Salle Prep Falcons
Jesuit Crusaders

The La Salle Prep girls basketball team continued its stellar summer run by blitzing past three 6A foes on its way to winning the Centennial High summer tournament last weekend.

La Salle Prep scored a 53-46 win over Jesuit, a team was ranked No. 6 in the big school division at the end of the winter season, in the championship game of the varsity bracket.

The Falcons got off to a flying start when Emily Niebergall swiped a steal off the opening tip and raced away for a layup. She picked off Jesuit's inbounds pass, absorbed a bump on her way up and converted for another two points.

And she wasn't done.

One more time, Niebergall got her hand on the ball for another steal-and-score that had La Salle Prep up 6-0 less than a minute into the game.

"It was a back-to-back game for us, coming off one that took a lot of energy," Niebergall said. "I knew I had to do something to get us going. I was just paying attention to their plays and knowing what they were going to do before they did it."

Jesuit would fight back and hold a brief lead, only to see Ella Wedin sink back-to-back 3s from the same spot in the corner of the court to put the Falcons up 23-19.

La Salle would hold the upper hand the rest of the way.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - La Salle Preps Addi Wedin makes a move to the basket after receiving a pass on the block.

Ella Wedin dribbled behind the basket and found Mandy Sisul for an easy two at the front of the rim, followed by Niebergall feeding the ball inside to Lindsay Drango for another easy bucket and a 31-26 lead.

The Falcons opened it up in the second half when Niebergall flung a length-of-the-court pass over the outstretched arm of a Jesuit defender and perfectly into the hands of teammate Addi Wedin, who was left with one step to the hoop for a quick two.

The pair made that deep connection on back-to-back possessions to put up four points in a flash for a 51-44 lead as the clock ticked under five minutes.

"We work on that one dribble kick every single day," Niebergall said. "I have to get the outlet pass really fast, and I know Addi is racing down the floor. She is working really hard to get down there, and it's my job to get her the ball."

Drango slipped through from the far side of the lane to clean up an offensive rebound that put the game out of reach 53-44 with three minutes left.

"We know we are 5A, but we feel like we can compete against any 6A team," Niebergall said. "We know what we want, and that's a championship. Right now, we are building up to repeat what we did last year."

The Falcons earned a hard-fought 42-33 win over Barlow in the previous game.

The teams traded the lead four times in the early stages of play before Niebergall came down the floor on a fast break. The Bruins' defense sagged off to guard the passing lane leaving Niebergall to sink the open 3. Sisul would hit another long ball on the next trip down the floor to put the Falcons up 18-13 late in the first half.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - La Salle Preps Lindsay Drango goes to the floor to collect a loose ball between a pair of Barlow defenders in the Falcons 42-33 win.

Barlow's Lindsay Barden split the defense for a layup that pulled the Bruins within a single point with 10 minutes to play.

The Bruins had a chance to pull even, but a 3-pointer came off the rim, and Addi Wedin corralled the rebound and went the other way for a layup.

"Barlow came out with a lot of energy and we knew we had to come out and compete," Addi Wedin said. "It doesn't matter if its summer ball or a league game, we want to bring the same level of intensity."

On the next trip, Sisul swooped in to grab an offensive rebound, and the extra chance eventually turned into two points on a layup by Addi Wedin for a 37-30 lead with two minutes left.

Addi Wedin finished off the win with a 3 from the top of the arc and a pair of free throws in the final minute.

"It comes down to mental toughness in those tight situations," Wedin said. "You can't panic. You have to stay calm. We practice for those situations every day."

La Salle started its day with a lopsided win over Madison.

La Salle also went undefeated in the sub-varsity brackets, giving the program an 8-0 record for the one-day tournament.

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