Banks girls dominate Baker en route to state semifinals
Don't count them out.
Despite more than a lion's share of injuries throughout the 2017-18 basketball season, the Banks girls continue to persevere — and they're getting better by the day.
The Braves — led by junior point guard Aspen Slifka — steamrolled the Baker Bulldogs 56-30 and punched their ticket to Friday's state semifinal against No. 1-ranked Marshfield.
"The girls came ready to play," said Banks head coach Brandon Begley. "I'm really happy with how they performed."
Slifka finished with 29 points, but equally paced the Braves with her quick hands atop the Banks defense which led to countless transition baskets en route to an 11-point halftime lead.
"Defensively, the girls did a great job," said Begley. "We talked about eliminating their shooters and they didn't get any great looks, and they did a great job on Ramos. It also doesn't hurt that we've got Aspen on the top of our zone."
The 6-footer — in addition to her 29 points — had nine steals, a block and three rebounds, and spearheaded a Banks halfcourt approach that focused on slowing the game in contrast to the uptempo approach Baker is accustomed to playing.
"Offensively, we talked a lot about not playing quickly at their pace," Begley said. "And for the most part we did a pretty good job of staying composed and getting good shots."
The Braves built a 16-4 lead in the first and ended the quarter ahead 16-9 thanks to 12 Slifka points. The lead was 27-16 at the half and grew to as many as 21 in the third before two late Baker free throws made the score 41-22 at the end of three quarters.
It was more of the same in the fourth, with the Braves getting an inspired effort from junior post Gracie Nelson, who scored 10 points while leading the team with six rebounds. Begley noted his team's effort and was proud of the performance, but equally pointed out some areas in need of improvement if they're going to beat top-ranked Marshfield Friday night.
"At halftime we knew we weren't doing a great job of rebounding and we talked about doing a better job of getting position before the ball came off the rim," he said. "We were better in the second half, but we'll need to focus on that to improve going forward."
Banks beat Marshfield in last year's semifinals and due to such, Begley expects the Pirates best effort tomorrow night.
"Marshfield is going to be ready to play," said the coach. "We beat them pretty good in the semis last year and they have everyone back, so they're going to be tough. They're athletic, have shooters, have girls that can get to the basket, so we're going to have to be ready to play."
The Braves' game against Marshfield is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Forest Grove High School.
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