But they fire blanks in the fourth quarter as they lose to Sutherlin in the final
A dream season ended on a sour note for La Salles second-ranked girls basketball team, as the Falcons came up short in Saturday nights championship final of the 2014 Class 4A State Tournament, losing to top-ranked Sutherlin, 52-40.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a perfect 27-0 record with the win.
La Salle finished up at 25-2 with the loss, its only other loss to Henley (56-46) on Jan. 2. Henley placed fourth at this years state tournament, dropping Philomath 56-36 in Saturdays fourth-place final.
The loss to Sutherlin was especially tough for the Falcons, because they also lost in the final in 2011, when the seniors on this years team were freshmen. Before 2011, a La Salle girls basketball team had not made the final since 1984, which was the last time the Falcons were state champions.
Saturdays state final was a lot closer than the final score might indicate. The game was close all the way, until the Falcons started firing blanks in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to pull away.
Sutherlin led 12-9 at the end of the first period and 18-16 at halftime.
La Salle led 24-23 when Sterling Swift scored on a layup with 1:31 remaining in the third period.
But the Falcons missed on 3-of-13 shots from the floor in the final period, and the Bulldogs salted the game away.
It ironic that cold shooting cost La Salle the game, because in their state-tournament quarterfinal and semifinal games the Falcons had shot the lights out, while playing their best basketball of the season.
In a 63-36 quarterfinal rout of La Grande, the Falcons made 24-of-59 (41 percent) shots from the floor, including nine 3-pointers, just one shy of the tournament record for 3-pointers (Gladstone had ten 3-pointers in 2007).
In a convincing 62-54 semifinal win over defending state champion Mazama, the Falcons shot 45 percent overall and they were 8-of-14 (57 percent) from 3-point land.
Sutherlin on Saturday was led by 5-9 junior wing Olivia Gulliford (16 points), 6-0 sophomore wing Kayce Mock (15 points) and 5-6 junior guard Miranda Mendenhall (10 points, 6 assists).
Swift (15 points) and freshman Aleah Goodman (11 points) paced the Falcons in scoring.
Swift was also a force on defense, stealing the sphere five times.
Morgan McSmith (10 rebounds) led La Salle to a 34-30 edge on the backboards.
Goodman starred in the semifinal with Mazama. The 5-8 freshman talent scored a game-high 23 points, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the floor, including three 3-pointers. She also made 10-of-15 free throws, and came up with three steals.
Depth was also a factor in the win over the Vikings. Eight La Salle players scored, led by Goodman, Swift (9 points) and McSmith (9 points).
Amber Lease, a 5-4 sophomore, and Caileigh Smith, a 6-0 senior, scored 19 and 16 points respectively to lead the Vikings.
Mazama kept the game close despite La Salles sharp shooting from downtown by dominating the backboards and getting lots of second shots. The Vikings out-rebounded the Falcons 36-20, with 14 rebounds at the offensive end of the floor.
La Salle led 13-8 at the end of the first period, 27-20 at halftime, and 46-39 heading into the final period.
Mazama went on to defeat Seaside 43-38 in the third-place final, and the Vikings finished the year with an overall record of 22-4.
The Falcons took no hostages in their quarterfinal with La Grande, outclassing the Tigers in every phase of the game.
The Falcons hit five 3-point baskets in the first quarter alone, as they took charge from the outset. They led 19-8 at the end of the first period, and 33-16 at halftime.
McSmith hit La Salles ninth 3-pointer 2-1/2 minutes into the third period to put La Salle up by 29 points, at 45-16, and La Salle coach Kelli Widen turned the play over to reserves for much of the remainder of the game.
McSmith hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the game to lead eleven La Salle players who contributed points to the winning tally.
Aleah Goodman (8 points) and Tori Goodman (6 points) both cashed in twice from downtown, while Ally Jansen (6 points) and Allison Ilg (3 points) also connected from 3-point land.
Andrea Novak (6 rebounds) led La Salle to a 37-27 advantage on the backboards.
Led by Aleah Goodman (4 steals), the Falcons forced 25 turnovers.
The Falcons worked their offense like a well-oiled machine, with assists on 18 of their 24 baskets. Novak and Tori Goodman were the top playmakers, each with four assists.
Auslin McDaniel-Perrin, a 5-6 junior, scored 11 points to lead theTigers.
Aleah Goodman was a tournament leader in scoring (14.0 ppg), overall shooting percentage (11-for-19, .579) and 3-point field goal shooting (7-for-14), and she was named to the state tournaments all-tournament first team for her efforts.
The Falcons lose seven seniors to graduation off of this years standout team: Sterling Swift (5-8 wing), Courtney Crain (5-5 wing), Allison Ilg (5-6 guard), Andrea Novak (5-10 post), Morgan McSmith (5-9 wing), Katie Buerk (6-0 post) and Mattie Portash (5-9 post).
Expected to return are: juniors Makenzie Cook (5-7 post) and Tori Goodman (5-10 post); sophomores Ally Jansen (5-9 wing) and Shannon Tran (5-7 wing); and freshman Aleah Goodman (5-8 guard).