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Falcons soar in 4A boys hoops

La Salle Prep is off to a 6-1 start

The La Salle Prep Falcons are off to a pretty good start in boy basketball, especially considering that several players were still playing football - practicing for the state final - when the basketball season got underway.

The Falcons are off to a 6-1 start under first-year head coach Jared Curtiss, and that's with a pretty competitive schedule.

The Falcons' lone loss was to No. 3-ranked Central (61-54), when the football players weren't yet playing.

'We've had a lot of balance. We have had six different guys score in double digits this season,' said Curtiss. 'When those football guys get into [basketball] shape, that number should increase….

'We have really stressed shot selection and thus far we've taken 77 percent of our shots in the painted area, which in our philosophy, wins games.

'The boys have lapses, like everyone else. But they have bought into the team-first mentality.'

In games last week, the Falcons dropped Yamhill-Carlton in a 52-49 barnburner, and they upended Banks 68-33. Earlier this season, they took care of business in games with De La Salle (85-39), Elmira (82-68), Valley Catholic (60-52) and Stayton (64-55).

Last week's game with Yamhill-Carlton went down to the wire. Jacob McGraw was the hero. The 6-5 junior nailed a 3-point shot with 5.8 seconds remaining to gain the Falcons their winning edge.

'We got complacent and began fouling, after leading by 17 points [in the third quarter],' said Curtiss.

The Tigers rallied back and made a game of it by hitting 10-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter and some clutch field goals in final two periods.

McGraw led the Falcon attack with 22 points - including three 3-pointers.

Daniel Lashbaugh sparked the office with 11 points and seven assists, and the 6-2 senior guard came through with a team-leading four steals.

Defense was the name of the game against Banks. The Braves made only 24 percent of their shots from the floor, and the Falcons turned a plethora of Brave turnovers into fast-break buckets at the other end of the floor.

Lashbaugh had a huge night, with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, nine assists and six steals.

'I thought Dan Lashbaugh's intensity on the defensive end really became contagious,' said Curtiss. 'We got a few dunks off of turnovers and built on good momentum.'

The Falcons built a 34-17 halftime advantage with a 23-9 run in the second quarter and never looked back.

Senior post Justin Stangel (16 points), McGraw (15 points) and senior guard Sam Davis (10 points) joined Lashbaugh in double digits in scoring.

Junior Sean Hays hauled down a team-high eight rebounds.

The Falcons return to the hardcourt Dec. 28-30, when they vie in a tournament at Stayton.