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Coach Jared Curtiss says he expects his La Salle boys team to be even better next year

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - With a right to be proud, La Salle Prep players and coaches pose with their second-place hardware at the 2014 Class 4A State Championship Basketball Tournament. The Falcons had a remarkable season. Despite graduating most of the players off of a team that placed third in the state in 2013, they finished the 2013-14 season with a 22-4 record, losing only to Philomath - twice (in preseason and in the state final), to 2014 Class 3A state champion Valley Catholic, and to cross-town rival Gladstone. Pictured are: (kneeling, left to right) Chris Dowhanuik and Mike Duarte; (second row, from left) Will Huynh, Andrew Lam, Thomas Callahan, Mike Edwards, Luke Kolln (20), Valois Gashongore, Keeston Smith and coach Mike Thul; and (back) head coach Jared Curtiss, Coach Troy Coady, Grant Cameron, coach Nick Phillips, Matt DAmore, Theo Peterson, Matt Berger, Reece Wible, Brandon Falk, Ryan Cavanagh and Ben Sisul.Class 5A boys basketball teams are forewarned. The La Salle Falcons aren’t going away just because they will be moving up to Class 5A next season.

“I think we’ll be even better next year,” La Salle Prep coach Jared Curtiss said of his Falcons, who were state runners-up at the Class 4A level this year. “We lose two starters. But [6-5 freshman] Matt Berger was our best post next to [6-7 junior starter] Keeston Smith this year. We’ll return three strong starters, plus a talented jayvee group.... Will be get to the 5A title game next year? I don’t know, but we have a chance at being a better team next year [than we were this year]....

“Offensively we’ll be better. We’ll score more points. Berger could lead us in scoring as a sophomore. He’s got the potential to be an all-state player. We’ll have size, shooters, guards.... Our jayvee team was loaded. They could have finished third in our league [at the varsity level] this year. They practiced with the varsity 90 percent of the time, so it won’t be much of a transition to varsity-level play....”

While this year’s varsity finished with an overall record of 22-4, the Falcon jayvees went 22-1, losing only to Lincoln; and La Salle freshmen went 22-2, splitting with Gladstone and losing to Lincoln.

Among those expected to return next year from this year’s varsity are: juniors Keeston Smith (6-7 post), Reece Wible (6-6 wing), Michael Edwards (5-6 guard), Matt D’Amore (5-8 wing), Valois Gashongore (6-0 guard) and Brandon Falk (6-5 post); sophomore Ben Sisul (6-3 post); and freshman Matt Berger (6-5 post).

Smith and Wible were first-team TVC all-league selections this year. D’Amore and Edwards garnered honorable mention in the league all-star balloting.

“Keeston was our best all-around player and Valois was our best defensive player,” Curtiss said.

Edwards started eight games and he took a team-high 18 charges on the 2013-14 season.

“That’s the most charges taken I’ve ever had,” said Curtiss.

Smith (13.8 ppg), Reece (13.5 ppg) and senior Luke Kolln (9.5 ppg) were the Falcons’ top scorers for the 2013-14 season.

Smith (9.3 rebounds per game), Berger (6.0 rpg) and 6-4 senior post Thomas Callahan (5.0 rpg) were the top rebounders.

Kolln (4.8 assists per game) and Edwards (3.8 apg) were team leaders in assists.

Wible and Gashongore averaged 2.8 and 2.2 steals respectively to lead the team in that category.

Smith and Berger both averaged two blocks a game.

The team averaged 47 percent shooting, led by Smith (53 percent), Berger (52 percent) and Wible (50 percent).

D’Amore (42 percent), Wible (41 percent), Kolln (40 percent) and Berger (38 percent) were all deadly from 3-point land. Wible hit the most treys, finding the mark on 41-of-100.

Members of this year’s talented jayvee team included: juniors David Schroeder (6-0 wing) and Keenan Hall (6-0 wing); sophomores Andrew Lam (5-6 guard), Will Huynh (5-6 guard), Makhai Hurst-Sloan (6-1 wing), Jalontae Walker (6-2 post), Jhevon Lancaster (5-9 guard), Joe Boyd (6-1 wing), Jacob Lyver (6-1 forward) and Ben Sisul (6-2 post); and freshmen Ange Toku (5-8 guard) and Christian Reyes (5-8 guard).

Asked if this year’s varsity players were overachievers, Curtiss said, “I wouldn’t say they were overachievers. What I would say is they maxed their potential. Winning league is not something I thought would happen. I thought it could happen. They came as close to maximizing their potential as possible....

“These guys cared about each other, but they were competitors. They hated losing any drill in practice, but after practice they were best friends....

“I’m very proud of these guys and what they accomplished this year.”

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - La Salle Preps girls basketball team had a tremendous season in 2013-14, going undefeated in the Tri-Valley Conference for the second year in a row, finishing with an overall record of 25-2, and placing second at the 2014 Class 4A State Tournament. Pictured with their hardware from the state tournament are La Salle players and coaches: (first row, from left) Mattie Portash, Courtney Crain, Andrea Novak, Allison Ilg and Sterling Swift; and (standing) head coach Kelli Wedin, Maddie Hill, Mary Olarte, Makenzie Cook, Tori Goodman, Aleah Goodman, Morgan McSmith, Ally Jansen, Shannon Tran, Katie Buerk, coach Darrell McSmith and coach Kevin Goodman.It was an historic season. It’s the first time since 1986 that a La Salle boys basketball has advanced to a state final.

The Falcons lost to Philomath 49-39 in the 2014 state final, the same team a senior-dominated La Salle team defeated in the third-place final in 2013.

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