MILWAUKIE – An infusion of offense from an unexpected source gave reigning 5A girls basketball champion La Salle Prep its biggest win of the season Friday night.
Senior forward Lindsay Drango – who had made 5 of 22 three-point attempts all season -- turned sharpshooter by hitting 7 of 8 from behind the arc to score a game-high 23 points and propel the No. 2 Falcons past No. 1 Wilsonville 65-55 in a Northwest Oregon Conference game.
The 6-foot-1 Drango made four three-pointers in the first half as host La Salle Prep (18-3, 9-1) built a 13-point lead, and after Wilsonville (18-3, 9-1) rallied to lead by seven points in the third quarter, she made three more triples to put the Falcons ahead.
“Usually, I don't get on the perimeter that much. That was a little different this game,” said Drango, who entered averaging 3.0 points per game. “It was really nice to get out there and just shoot. After hitting that first one, and just our energy, and everyone being so excited for me, it just felt awesome.”
Drango's previous season high was 14 points. Her breakout offensive performance was a much-needed boost for the Falcons, who avenged a Jan. 21 loss at Wilsonville and pulled into a first-place tie with the Wildcats.
“We know she's a good player, it's just, she's never done that,” La Salle Prep junior guard Addi Wedin said. “When she shoots it, I think it's going in every time.
“She was so confident, I was really proud of her. It was inspiring to me because she really stepped up. We definitely were like, 'OK, Lindsay's on fire, let's look for her.'”
The Wildcats came ready to stop Wedin, but didn't account for Drango.
“We talked about it yesterday, that's Addi's an amazing player, and if somebody's going to beat us, it's not going to be her,” Wilsonville coach Justin Duke said. “I give all the credit in the world to Lindsay Drango, because, holy cow. Good for her, a senior who's put in her time.”
Wilsonville junior point guard Sydney Burns said Drango played “an amazing game. She really stepped up for them. We'll definitely have to watch out for her the next time we play them.”
Drango made all four of her three-point attempts in the first quarter but didn't strike from deep again until her three-pointer with 1:02 left in the third quarter drew the Falcons within 49-46.
She made a three-pointer with 4:00 left in the game to put La Salle Prep ahead for good at 57-55, and after a steal by freshman Rhyan Mogel, she drilled another bomb to make it 60-55 with 3:36 to go.
Wilsonville called a timeout, and the Falcons mobbed Drango.
“My team, they set me up, so that's the reason I hit all those threes,” Drango said. “It was all because of them. Every open shot, they created for me. It's definitely a lot of confidence, just knowing my team, they believe in me, and I believe in myself.”
Drango, who transferred from Lake Oswego as a junior, has fought adversity throughout her high school career. She tore her right ACL and missed her sophomore season for the Lakers, and after rehabbing, she tore it again and missed the first half of her junior season at La Salle Prep.
“I'm so happy for her,” La Salle Prep coach Kelli Wedin said. “Of all the kids, to have this be their game, let it be Lindsay Drango, 100 percent. Great kid, great leader.
“It's in her, we know it is. She's been a big club kid her whole life. We ask her to do things that she's never really had to do, as far as guarding big kids. She was always kind of on the perimeter growing up.”
Drango feels as if she has finally made it back.
“Being out of the brace, and being in this culture for so long, I definitely feel like I am who I should be,” she said.
La Salle Prep was eager for a rematch with Wilsonville after blowing a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 52-47 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 21. In that game, Wilsonville went on an 18-0 run in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons came out firing Friday and opened a 31-18 lead in the second quarter. But after making 10 of their first 13 shots from three-point range, they went cold in the third quarter and Wilsonville came roaring back.
Burns scored 10 points in a 21-2 run as the Wildcats surged ahead 45-39. They went up 48-41 on a putback by junior post Emilia Bishop with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
La Salle Prep stabilized, though, and took the lead 52-51 on a three-pointer by senior point guard Emily Niebergall. Fueled by Drango's back-to-back three-pointers, the Falcons outscored Wilsonville 11-0 in the final 5:15.
“When they had the lead, it was tough because they were getting all excited,” Addi Wedin said. “But I was like, 'Hey guys, everybody calm down.' We just weren't going to lose that game. From that last game, we just had so much – not anger, but it motivated us to work harder.”
Kelli Wedin said the difference from the Jan. 21 game was the Falcons kept their heads when Wilsonville rallied.
“We didn't abandon ship,” she said. “Just super proud of how our kids stayed together and fought through that adversity. We needed a win like this.”
Addi Wedin and Niebergall added 17 and 11 points, respectively, for La Salle Prep, which finished 14 of 24 from three-point range. Burns scored 16 points for Wilsonville, which also got 11 points from senior Renee Lee and 10 points from Bishop.
The dramatic game was just the latest episode in an intense series between the teams, who split the conference title last year and met in the 5A semifinals, where La Salle Prep won 79-63.
“Hopefully, we'll see these guys again,” Burns said. “It's never fun to lose, but to lose to a great team, it doesn't hurt as bad.”