Girls basketball: La Salle Prep grinds to major defensive victory over Wilsonville in NWOC showdown
By Scott Sepich | for The Oregonian/OregonLive
Photo: Ali Gradischer
Facing their biggest Northwest Oregon Conference rivals, the La Salle Prep girls basketball team knew it was going to take a great defensive effort to take down the Wilsonville Wildcats and pull into a first-place tie in league play.
And while the Falcons didn’t have their best night on the offensive end, they put on a defensive clinic and downed the visiting Wildcats 34-20 Friday night.
La Salle (12-4 overall, 5-1 NWOC) never trailed and drew even at the top of the standings with Wilsonville (7-10, 5-1), which was held to a season low in points.
“Coming into this game, it was more about our defensive scout and we kind of thought if we could take away the things they wanted to do, we would be successful,” said La Salle coach Kelli Wedin. “They love to get out in transition, so the key was to slow them down and take away their best scorers.”
Senior guard Emma Buchanan stifled standout Wilsonville freshman point guard Gabi Moultrie, who struggled to find room to operate all night.
“It was my assignment to shut (Moultrie) down and I took that to heart,” said Buchanan. “I go into games knowing I can control my effort on the defensive end so I worked as hard as I could. Everyone was diving on the floor for every loose ball, which showed that we really want it.”
No player on either team reached double figures in scoring for the game. Freshman Ava Bergeson led the Falcons with nine points, while Buchanan added eight and senior Ella Wedin chipped in with seven.
“I think we got all the right shots and we were really patient and executed the offense, but a lot of our shots just didn’t fall,” said Ella Wedin. “It’s a little unlucky, but it was enough tonight.”
Ella Wedin said the Falcons celebrated this win more than most because of how tough the Wildcats have been to beat over the years.
“We’ve had a rivalry with them for years and they’re always good,” she noted. “It’s always going to be a battle between these two teams.”
La Salle led 7-5 through one quarter, but took control in the second by outscoring Wilsonville 13-3 to lead 20-8 at halftime. The Falcons maintained a double-digit lead from there and led by as many as 16.
Wilsonville had averaged 67 points per game in its five conference victories, but never got anything going Friday. Sophomore Audrey Counts had eight points to lead the Wildcats, while Moultrie scored five.
The Wildcats defeated fellow NWOC contender Putnam 72-55 earlier this month, while La Salle dropped a 60-53 decision at home to the Kingsmen in mid-December.
Buchanan said that loss helped refocus the Falcons, who have lost only to a team from Utah and 6A Jesuit since. La Salle gets a rematch with Putnam on Jan. 31.
“Putnam was a tough loss and definitely a wake-up call,” Buchanan said. “We’ve started some games soft, but I think this is a turning point for us and we’ll work on our defensive scout to shut Putnam’s scorers down like we did with Wilsonville tonight.”
For Kelli Wedin, this is the last season she’ll be able to coach one of her daughters. Ella’s older sisters Taycee and Addi played key roles in La Salle’s state championship runs in 2017 and 2019.
“I’m just trying to enjoy myself in the moment, be positive and not get wound up over things that don’t really matter,” Kelli Wedin remarked about her decade-long run of having at least one daughter on the team coming to an end. “I think I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 10 years and I’m enjoying it a little bit more than I have in the past.”
Ella, who will play college basketball at Loyola Marymount, said she definitely had “big shoes to fill” following her sisters, who both currently play at Saint Mary’s.
“They’ve both been really good role models for me, so I’m just trying to do my best to finish what they started,” Ella said.
The legacy would be most complete with a third 5A title to go with the two won by Taycee and Addi.
“This is the perfect time for us to be having a lot of momentum,” Ella added. “This win is going to help us keep motivated to reach our goals, which are winning league and then a state championship.
“I feel like right now we have a lot of good energy to get there.”
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