Battling three super tough opponents, the La Salle Prep Falcons finished second in a three-day boys basketball tournament at Sisters.

The Falcons couldn’t get the ball to drop and they lost to the defense-minded Philomath Warriors 45-32 in Saturday’s tournament championship final, after advancing through wins over Creswell (64-45), the No. 2 team in Class 3A; and Henley (58-47), the No. 4 team in Class 4A.

The ninth-ranked Warriors allowed their three opponents in the Sisters tournament an average of just 29 points a game, defeating Baker 72-33, Scappoose 53-22, and La Salle 45-32. The Warriors took charge of the La Salle game in the first quarter, outscoring the Falcons 16-2 in the period.

Saturday’s win was the sixth-straight for the Warriors (6-2).

La Salle’s win over Creswell was the Bulldogs’ only loss in nine games this winter.

La Salle slipped to 7-2 with Saturday’s loss, the Falcons’ only other setback coming in a Dec. 12 game with Valley Catholic, which is ranked No. 1 in 3A.

The Falcons rallied around their own defense to build a 16-point lead over Henley in the third quarter of last Friday’s game with the Hornets. But La Salle got three starters in foul trouble in the fourth period, and the Hornets rallied back to within three points with 2:04 remaining.

Matthew D’Amore hit a couple pressure-packed free throws to widen the gap back to five points, and the Falcons held off the Hornets for the 58-47 victory.

“Our bench saved us,” said La Salle coach Jared Curtiss. “We preach depth, and it’s not just a saying or a T-shirt quote. Our guys believe in their roles and, when they step foot on the court, they make plays.”

Smith headed up La Salle’s offense with a game-high 23 points.

Smith was also huge in the 63-45 win over Creswell, scoring a game-high 18 points and corralling 14 rebounds.

Still Creswell rallied around two talented guards and their full-court press to make a game of it.

La Salle broke a one-point game open in the final period, outscoring Creswell 19-2 in the fourth quarter.

“We doubled their playmakers and made their peripheral players shoot,” Curtiss said. “It paid off, as they only made 2-of-16 shots in the final 11:51 of the game.

D’Amore sparked the offense, hitting four 3-pointers, dishing out four assists and scoring a season-high 16 points.

Luke Kolln added 13 points to the winning tally.

Ranked No. 3 in the OSAA power rankings, the Falcons play Astoria on the road this Friday; they have an away game with Elmira next Tuesday.

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