CORVALLIS – After Silverton’s thrilling 37-34 triple-overtime victory Thursday night over Corvallis in the semifinals of the OSAA Class 5A state championships at Gill Coliseum, senior post Kayce McLaughlin hit the right note when assessing the Foxes’ performance.
“Our team’s all about grit, heart and hustle,” McLaughlin said.
Those attributes have brought defending state champion Silverton (21-4), the No. 3 seed, back to the championship game where they will meet No. 1 seed La Salle Prep (25-2), 6:30 p.m. Friday at Gill.
McLaughlin hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:15 left in triple overtime. It was the final points of a game that both teams could have won.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for No. 2 seed Corvallis (22-4), which lost to Silverton in last season’s state semifinals, 37-36. The Spartans beat Silverton in both regular season matchups this season.
But in the game that mattered most between Mid-Willamette Conference powers, Silverton prevailed.
“You’ve gotta hand it to Corvallis,” said McLaughlin, who had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. “They always give us a tough challenge and they’re always a blast to play.”
With the game tied at 27, Corvallis post Alexandria Vallencey-Martinson had four field goals attempts in the paint in the final 10 seconds of regulation, but they didn’t fall.
In the first four-minute overtime, Silverton junior wing Maggie Roth made a 3-pointer from top of the key with 30 seconds left to put the Foxes on top 30-27. Silverton had the ball under the Spartans’ basket with 19 seconds left and a three-point lead, but Corvallis came up with a steal and Grace Corbin’s 3-pointer forced another overtime.
In the second overtime, Roth converted a layup that would have been a game winner, but it was waved off by the officials because it came a fraction of a second after the buzzer.
Before the third overtime began, Silverton coach Tal Wol took a moment to reflect on a game that figures to resonate for a long time.
“I told my (assistant) coaches, ‘How fun is this? Too bad one of us is gonna feel really bad at some point,'” Wold said.
It won’t be Silverton.
McLaughlin’s 3-pointer, which was the only points in the third overtime, combined with the Foxes’ relentless man-to-man pressure defensive, was decisive.
You’d think fatigue might have set in at some point, but apparently that wasn’t the case.
“I didn’t feel tired at all,” said Roth, who had a game-high 14 points along with 10 rebounds and four steals. “The adrenalin was keeping me going through every quarter.”
Silverton had an early 8-1 advantage, but Corvallis led 15-12 at halftime lead.
The game was tied at 20 after three quarters, and stayed tied after the fourth quarter and the first two overtimes.
“What an unbelievable game,” Wold said.
Silverton held the taller Spartans to 12 field goals on 42 attempts (28.6 percent) and forced 29 turnovers.
The Foxes didn’t have a good shooting game either – 15 of 53 (28.3 percent) – but they made enough plays to win.
La Salle, which beat defending 6A state champion South Salem by 33 points on Dec. 30, defeated Silverton 47-32 on Dec. 10.
The Falcons feature senior guard Aleah Goodman, who is Oregon State bound next season on a basketball scholarship, and junior guard Taycee Wedin. They have won 21 games in a row.
“They’re a great a team. They’re super talented,” Wold said.
But don’t count Silverton out with everything on the line.
ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com, or Twitter.com/ghorowitz
SILVERTON 37, CORVALLIS 34 (3 OT)
Silverton – 8-4-8-7-3-4-3 – 37
Corvallis – 4-11-5-7-3-4-0 – 37
Silverton: Roth 14, McLaughlin 11, H. Smisek 6, Munson 2, E. Smisek 2, Alexander 2, Ulven. Totals: 15 2-8 37
Corvallis: Vallancey-Martinson 13, Corbin 11, Harding 3, Wilson 3, Garretston 3, Hurley 1, Beck, Taylor. Totals: 12 5-8 34
3-pointers: Silverton 5 (McLaughlin 2, H. Smisek 2, Roth); Corvallis 5 (Corbin 2, Harding, Wilson, Garretson)