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Goodman guides La Salle to 5A girls state championship

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Senior guard Aleah Goodman's game-high 15 points paced the Falcons to a 44-26 win over defending champion Silverton Friday at Gill Coliseum.

REVIEW/ NEWS PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - La Salle Prep's Aleah Goodman drives on Silverton's Paige Alexander during the second half of Friday's OSAA Class 5A girls' basketball championship final at Gill Coliseum.CORVALLIS -- La Salle Prep senior guard Aleah Goodman made good a promise she made after last season's loss in the semifinals to put the Falcons in position to win another state championship.

Mission: Accomplished.

Goodman finished with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three blocked shots -- all game highs -- leading the Falcons to a 44-26 victory over defending champion Silverton in Friday night's OSAA Class 5A girls' basketball championship game at Gill Coliseum.

Taycee Wedin added 10 points and six rebounds, and Isabella Crowley and Reese Timm had seven points each to help the Falcons (26-2) clinch their second state championship in three seasons and fourth title in school history.

"This is the best," said Goodman, the Oregon State-bound playmaker and two-time (likely soon to be three-time) Class 5A Player of the Year. "For me, I get to end my high school career where I get to start my college career. Not a lot of players get to say that, so that's real cool.

"And then to end it with a state championship makes it even better."

Friday's win was a fitting ending to a season that saw the Falcons go undefeated against in-state opponents. They lost two games in mid-December to a couple of national powerhouses -- Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California, and Incarnate Word of St. Louis, Missouri -- before going undefeated in league play for the fifth consecutive season and closing out the 2016-17 season on a 22-game win streak.

"I'm so excited for my kids," Falcons coach Kelli Wedin said. "I wanted it so badly for them. They set out on a mission early. They took it very seriously, they put in the work every day, and they just weren't going to settle for anything else.

"That's not me. That's just them coming and griding every single day, and sacrificing whatever they had to sacrifice to get it done."

Goodman helped lead La Salle to a state title as a sophomore, but then walked away from last season's tournament with a sour taste in her mouth after the Falcons dropped a 46-43 decision to Springfield in the semifinals.

"That loss hit us hard, and we knew we wanted to make it back," Goodman said. "We knew what we wanted to go after, and we knew we could do it if we worked hard, so we were ready to do whatever we had to do to make that happen."

La Salle and Silverton locked up in a defensive battle during the first half, which ended with the Falcons nursing a precarious 12-11 advantage after limiting the Silver Foxes to two field goals through the first 16 minutes.

Silverton, coming off a 37-34 victory in triple overtime over Corvallis in Thursday's semifinals, took a 14-12 lead when Brooke McCarty knocked down a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the third quarter.

The lead was short-lived as the Falcons scored the next 11 points and closed the quarter on an 18-2 run to take a 30-16 advantage into the fourth.

"You know what, that's what great teams do," Silverton coach Tal Wold said. "We didn't get some shots to fall that we would have loved to have fall, we didn't get a couple stops that we would have liked to have had, and La Salle put us in some tough situations."

Taycee Wedin scored all 10 of her points during La Salle's third-quarter burst, and Goodman added five, including a three-point play that gave the Falcons a 28-16 lead with 47.3 seconds left in the quarter.

"When Silverton went up, we knew not to worry," Goodman said. "We trusted our process, did our thing, and got after it.

"We knew going into it that it was going to be a dogfight. Silverton wears 'Grit' on the back of their warmups, and they are one of the grittiest teams we've ever played against. That's what I respect most about Silverton is that they never give up and they're one of the best teams I've ever competed against."

La Salle's Colby Jansen made two free throws that pushed the lead to 39-21 and all but put the game out of reach with 3:43 to play.

"My assistant, Kevin Goodman, squeezed my knee and said, 'I'm calling,' right then," Kelli Wedin said. "I said, 'I'm not having that.' I think I got comfortable probably right under two minutes.

"I knew Silverton was going to have to come after us, and if we could knock down some free throws, we'd be just fine."

Aleah Goodmand and Taycee Wedin were named to the all-tournament first team along with Silverton's Kylee roath, Corvallis' Grace Corbin, and Bend's Sophia Jackson.

The Falcons won their first state championship in 1981, and then added titles in 1984 and 2015.

"I don't have enough good words to say about this team," Kelli Wedin said. "Just an unbelievable run. It's absolutely extraordinary what these girls were able to accomplish. The thrill of victory is so sweet."