La Salle downs Bend, 56-44, advances to 5A girls final
CORVALLIS -- The La Salle Prep Falcons are exactly where they expected to be after Thursday night -- 32 minutes away from a possible OSAA Class 5A girls' basketball state championship.
Aleah Goodman and Taycee Wedin scored 16 points each and spearheaded a solid defensive effort that carried the top-ranked Falcons to a 56-44 victory over Bend in Thursday's semifinals at Gill Coliseum.
La Salle (25-2) will take on defending champion Silverton in Friday's 6:30 p.m. final with an opportunity to clinch a fourth state championship and second in three seasons since making the jump to from 4A to 5A.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Falcons' junior guard Isabella Crowley said. "It's hard to explain. Really I don't know how to put it into words, but I'm really hoping we can win one more game. I think we're peaking at the right time."
After Bend's Kylee Roath scored in transition to give the Lava Bears a 14-12 lead with 5:01 left in the second quarter, the Falcons closed the half on a 17-2 run to take a 29-16 lead into the break.
"I think we were really good defensively in the first half," Falcons coach Kelli Wedin said. "That just allows us to be so free on offense. It gives us confidence, it gives us energy on the offensive side of the court."
Goodman, the Oregon State-bound point guard, knocked down a 3-pointer to cap a 12-7 run at the start of the third quarter that pushed La Salle's lead to 18 points, 41-23, and the Falcons maintained at least a nine-point advantage the rest of the way.
"We just were relentless," Kelli Wedin said. "We just were not going to do anything but win that game.
"Bend is a hard-working team and I was impressed with them on both ends. They didn't make anything easy, but when they pushed at us, we responded and pushed right back."
Reese Timm and Crowley finished with eight points each for the Falcons, who shot 42.6 percent (20 for 47) from the field to Bend's 35.7 percent (15 for 42).
Bend's Cambree Scott finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Sophia Jackson added 14 points and six rebounds, and Tayla Wheeler had four points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Lava Bears (20-6).
"It's so good to have that off my back," said Kelli Wedin, whose team lost in last year's semifinals. "It just feels great for the girls. This is everything we've been working for, and now we get an opportunity to play tomorrow.
"I recognize that I have a really special team and they've put in an incredible amount of work every single day to get here."