The Falcons up their intensity in the second half and put their cross-town rivals away

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Gladstone sophomores Alicia Feb (40) and Molly Webster (top left) scrap for a loose ball with La Salles Ellie Mulvaney and Tori Goodman (1) in last weeks game at Gladstone.Unheralded Gladstone gave fourth-ranked La Salle a game for a half in a Feb. 5 Tri-Valley League girls basketball game at Gladstone.

But the Falcons upped their intensity at both ends of the floor after the break, forged a lead; and the Gladiators were playing catch-up the rest of the way.

La Salle coeds prevailed 48-36, hitting five of their first six shots from the field in the third period to build a 28-22 advantage. Makenzie Cook’s rebound basket as the third quarter was winding down made it 32-22 La Salle, and the Falcons maintained at least an eight-point lead the rest of the way.

“We outran them in the second half,” said La Salle senior co-captain Ellie Mulvaney.

“We didn’t have a great night of shooting, but we made up for it with heart and hustle,” said La Salle junior playmaker Sterling Swift. “We came out with a lot more energy [in the second half], got up and down the floor, and got after it.”

“I think that the difference in the second half was our ability to play eleven kids,” said La Salle coach Kelli Wedin. “We have great depth and I think being able to play a lot of kids extended minutes allowed us to wear Gladstone down.

“We really wanted to push tempo in that second half and the girls were dedicated to the game plan and were able to get some easy shots in transition and they continued to make stops in our half court defense....

“Gladstone is a very athletic team and we knew it was going to be a hard fought battle, but the girls were up for the challenge and we couldn’t be happier with the total team effort!”

Swift led the second-half surge, scoring 10 of her game-high 13 points after the halftime break.

The Falcons converted at a .392 clip for the game, dropping in 20 of 51 shots from the floor. The Gladiators had an even tougher time finding the basket, making only 15-of-56 attempts (.267).

“We didn’t shoot well the entire game,” said Gladstone coach Pat Scott. “The difference [in the second half] was we didn’t block out on the boards and we didn’t make our free throws. We gave up three or four putbacks and we only made 2-of-10 free throws.”

Swift and Cook (12 points) were the only Falcons in double digits in scoring. Allison Ilg and Mulvaney sparked the Falcon offense with six assists between them.

Andrea Novak battled tough on the backboards, corralling 10 rebounds, four of them at the offensive end of the floor. Morgan McSmith had a team high three steals.

Molly Webster scored 11 points and dished out four assists to lead Gladstone.

Gladiators Mikaela Simac and Alisa Bradshaw were tough on defense, coming up with six and four steals respectively. Alicia Feb claimed seven rebounds.

“It’s really nice to beat our rivals at their place,” Swift said. “We knew it would be tough. They’re a good team....

“This puts is in good position to be league champs.”

“We’ve clinched a league playoff spot,” Scott said. “But this loss means that the league title is no longer in our control. It’s out of our hands. Our goal now is a home playoff game. I think that if we win out, there’s a good chance that we’ll get a home game in the playoffs.”

“If we want to go far in the playoffs, we’ve got to pick it up, bring it up a level,” Webster said. “We’ve got to work harder, in practices and in games.”

La Salle and Gladstone both got the job done in league play last Friday, although their victories did not come easily. The Gladiators edged Estacada 36-34 and the Falcons rallied in the second half to drop North Marion 46-36.

Andrea Novak hit a buzzer-beater to give the Falcons a 26-24 lead to close out the third quarter, and the Falcons widened the gap from there.

Swift led a 20-12 fourth-quarter run, scoring seven of her game-high 17 points in the period. She was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line at crunch time.

Cook also provided a spark in the fourth quarter, when she came off the bench to score five points.

Novak (12 points) was the only La Salle player besides Swift to score in double figures.

La Salle (17-3, 7-0) entered play this week needing one win in its three remaining league games to clinch at least a share of the 2013 Tri-Valley Conference title. The Falcons had league games remaining on Tuesday (Feb. 12) with Madras (11-10, 5-2), at Estacada (6-12, 2-5) on Friday, and hosting Molalla (6-15, 0-7) next Tuesday.

The Gladiators’ dodged a bullet in Friday’s 36-34 home win over the Rangers.

Webster scored all of her team-high 11 points in the first half, and she and her teammates couldn’t get the ball to drop in the third quarter, when they got outscored 9-0.

“We must have been 0-for-10 or 0-for-12 from the field in the third quarter,” Scott said. “We were getting good shots, but nothing would drop.”

Trailing 30-26, the Gladiators outscored their guests 10-4 in the final period to salvage the victory.

Kendall Schumaker scored a lay-in off a pass from Webster with eight seconds to play for the winning basket.

Melisa Campos blocked a last-second shot by Madison Haga at the other end of the floor, and the Gladiators claimed the spoils.

Simac played a pivotal role in the Gladiator win, stealing the ball nine times.

“That we can go scoreless for a quarter and still win is a real testament to our defense,” Scott said.

Gladstone (12-6, 5-2) entered play this week tied with Madras (11-10, 5-2) in second place in the TVC standings. The Gladiators had league games remaining on Tuesday (Feb. 12) with Molalla, hosting Madras on Friday, and hosting North Marion (9-12, 2-5) next Tuesday.

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