Also: The Falcons get revenge in their TVC final at Molalla

by: COLIN STORM - Senior point guard Alex Soberanis (3) goes on the attack in last weeks Tri-Valley Conference showdown at Molalla. Jack Marquardt defends for the Indians.It’s been a tremendous season for La Salle Prep’s boys basketball team.

With a 44-35 hard fought win at Molalla in last week’s Tri-Valley Conference final, the Falcons finished with a 9-1 record in in the TVC (22-2 overall), two games up on the league runner-up Indians (15-8, 7-3).

“We tied Madras for the league championship last year, but we hadn’t won the league outright since 2002-03,” said La Salle coach Jared Curtiss. “Our kids wanted to be the team to get us the league title. The coaches are so proud of the kids. They practice so hard. They deserve this.”

The Falcons enter postseason play ranked third in the OSAA power rankings, which gives them a good chance to make it to the state tournament, a feat that eluded them last year, when they lost to Roosevelt in the round of 16.

The Falcons host Scappoose in this Friday’s round of 16, with a berth in the 2013 Class 4A State Tournament on the line. The Falcons hammered the 21st-ranked Scappoose Indians 60-27, when the two teams met in early January.

“[The fact that we beat them soundly in early January] worries me,” Curtiss said.”I know Scappoose will adjust and play much, much better. Scappoose went 9-1 and they are league champs in the Cowapa League.”

The Indians (14-9 overall) have won 10 of 12 games since the January loss to La Salle.

Last week’s 44-35 Falcon win at Molalla avenged an earlier 54-50 overtime loss to the Indians in a Jan. 29 game played in the “brick oven.”

Like the earlier game, last week’s game was a barnburner. Nursing a 32-31 lead, the Falcons put the contest away in the fourth quarter, when they outscored their hosts 12-4.

“The fourth quarter was all about our defense,” Curtiss said. “After Ryan Potter hit a deep 3 with 4:09 left in the game, Molalla went 0-for-9 [from the field] down the stretch, turning the ball over five times....

“We sent Keeston [Smith] and Alex [Soberanis] to go dog their shooter, and the other guys protected the paint.”

Smith also came up with a key rebound at crunch time. With 1:09 remaining and his team up 39-35, Smith ripped a rebound from Molalla senior post Colby Green and put the ball up for a more comfortable 41-35 lead.

“I think our guys knew that once we got that insurance, with the way we were contesting their shots, we were in great shape,” Curtis said. “Keeston doesn’t get a lot of credit from people outside our program, but the kid played phenomenal, as did his teammates. I was happy for him, and for all our kids.”

Jacob McGraw (15 points, three 3-pointers), Ian Johnson (14 points on 4-for-5 shooting) and Soberanis (4 assists) headed up the Falcon offense.

Smith had eight rebounds and three assists. Sean Hays claimed six rebounds and blocked three shots.

Potter, who led the TVC in scoring, finished with a game-high 16 points. But he struggled to find the basket when the game was on the line.

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