Banks boys suffer disappointing end to season with loss to Newport
Disappointing. That's how the Banks Braves boys basketball team will remember the 2018 OSAA 4A State Basketball tournament.
Despite winning the Cowapa League, being ranked number-one for the bulk of the regular season, and boasting the league's player, defensive player and coach of the year, Banks left Forest Grove High School Saturday night, March 10, with a fifth-place trophy — and that's not what they had in mind.
"It's an emotional night for us," said Banks head coach Marc Roche on Saturday. "Yesterday was such a letdown and disappointment. As much as we wanted to be up and ready, we didn't come here to get a third-place trophy."
But they didn't even manage third.
A fluke play just minutes into the Braves' state semifinal versus Valley Catholic had a resounding effect on not just that game, but Saturday night's third-place game. Banks standout Dalton Renne, the Cowapa League Player of the Year, was injured while attempting a dunk less than four minutes into the Friday contest.
The injury was so severe that it halted play for about 45 minutes, with both teams retreating to their locker rooms, stunned by what they had seen.
Renne came down head-first on the hardwood beneath the basket. What ensued was roughly 30 minutes of fearful silence while trainers and later emergency medical technicians worked on the injured Renne, and parents, coaches and spectators tried to process what they saw and were seeing on an energetic night that'd gone horribly wrong.
Renne was later released from the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion and sprain to his left shoulder AC joint, along with potential ligament damage in that shoulder.
The Friday game was played almost as an afterthought. The shellshocked Braves scored just 33 points, their lowest total all season, and lost by eight to miss the finals.
Newport defeated the Braves 68-51 in Saturday night's third-place game, leaving the Banks team wondering what could've been if not for Renne's injury a night earlier.
Needless to say, the shock of Renne's loss and the manner in which it occurred affected the team's psyche, but beyond that, his physical absence proved too much to overcome for a team with only a state title on its mind.
"After we knew Dalton was going to be okay, the disappointment of what could've been really hit home," said a downbeat Roche. "But sports in general often come down to getting breaks, and unfortunately, we didn't catch that break this time."
Without Renne, Banks appeared lost Saturday. But while the Braves searched for a new identity, Newport found theirs by way of the three-point shot.
The Cubs made 13 threes in the game and made six of their 11 attempts in the first half en route to a 29-11 lead. It was more of the same in the second half, as Newport's standout guard Kye Blaser scored 17 of his game-high 27 points to keep an eager but shorthanded Banks squad at bay.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Newport — they shot the ball well," Roche said. "We talked at halftime about only having 16 minutes left in the season, and I was very pleased at how our guys fought through it and played really hard. There's no quit in this team."
Despite their predicament, the Braves worked on both ends of the court and at numerous times cut into the Cubs' lead with inspired play from sophomore Jacob Slifka, Dakota Bunn, Blake Gobel and senior captain Zach Streblow, who scored 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting. But to their credit, the Cubs answered every Banks run and put the Braves away with a series of free throws down the stretch.
"I thought if we ran some random zones at them, they'd take some quick threes and we'd get the ball back, but they just kept knocking them down," Roche said.
Now, with reality setting upon what's now a season gone by, Coach Roche and his team are sadly left with the disappointment of what was ultimately a really bad break.
"We talked about basketball being analogous to life," he said Saturday. "Things don't always go your way, but it's about how you respond. Yesterday, after Dalton left, it was tough. And tonight, we were down big, but in those last two quarters, our guys competed, and I think that shows a lot and says a lot about them individually."
He continued: "I don't think these last two days are reflective of how successful our season was, but that's fresh in our minds. We had bigger aspirations, but we accomplished a lot, and I hope our guys can look back on the special times we had: the road trips, the competition in practice, the big wins. I'm so proud of these guys. It's just hard to swallow right now."
And while a number of Roche's guys will return, Banks will be losing four seniors to graduation, including a key piece in Renne. Roche spoke glowingly of them all, and specifically, to what they brought to the table.
"What Dalton accomplished speaks for itself, and you could see his impact not being around," Roche said Saturday. "Zach Streblow is one of the hardest-working, most coachable kids, and just a fantastic human being. It was awesome to see him have a good night tonight. Trevor Geraci, he's our workhorse, he's our competitor who does the tough stuff. And Noa Martinez is just a selfless teammate — whether he's on the bench, in the game, or in practice, he always brought a great attitude."
So where do the Braves go from here?
"We raised the bar last year and we did it again this year," said Roche. "We had an undefeated JV team and a JV2 team that went 17-2. Our program is really headed in a good direction."
Quarterfinal, March 8 — Banks vs. Sisters
It wasn't pretty, but the Banks boys survived and advanced with a 46-38 state quarterfinal win over Sisters March 8 at Forest Grove High School.
The top-ranked Braves looked for much of the game like a team making their 2018 state tournament debut, playing slow and missing frequently at point-blank range. But to their credit, this year's Cowapa League champions persevered and hung on despite a rough start, a tight finish and a pesky Outlaw team that ultimately made them earn it.
"We didn't play real well, but we got the jitters out," said Banks senior Dalton Renne. "The first game is always the toughest, so hopefully we'll bounce back and play better tomorrow.
Blake Gobel led the Braves with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Renne added 14 points, including 12 in the second half. The standout, who was recently voted the Cowapa League Player of the Year, struggled mightily in the opening half, scoring just two points and making just one of his nine shots.
"In the first half I had some takes that I normally knock down that didn't go, and I got a little flustered," Renne said. "But Coach talked to me at halftime and told me to get it going in the second half, and that the team was going to need me down the stretch, so I had to get my mind clear and ready for the second half."
And he did.
The 6-foot-6 wing took to the paint, doing the bulk of his damage at the rim and keeping Sisters at arm's length in game that never really felt in hand.
"It's always tough that first game," said Renne. "Last year, Seaside had a tough opening game against Gladstone and they were the No. 1 seed, so it can happen."
Semifinals, March 9 — Banks vs Valley Catholic
Sports are great, and winning means a lot. But life has a way of giving one perspective, and everyone in Forest Grove's Basinski Center Friday night got a dose of it just 3:26 into the game.
Banks lost 41-33, but the outcome paled to compare to the concern on the faces of the thousands in attendance during and after a scary incident early in the first quarter.
Banks senior and Cowapa League Player of the Year, Dalton Renne, went up for a dunk attempt on a fast break during the Braves' state semifinal game against Valley Catholic and came down hard on his head beneath the basket.
Renne was taken out on a backboard, but he was moving and respondent as he left. The game was delayed for 45 minutes, and the two teams adjourned to their locker rooms prior to resuming action on the court.
"We went back and said a prayer with our team," said Valley Catholic head coach Joel Sobotka. "I've never seen a kid down like that, and I know Dalton and like him a lot, and Marc (Roche) is one of the best guys around, so it was unfortunate."
Banks head coach Marc Roche said his team was obviously shaken, but on the flipside said he's never been more proud of his guys based on their response.
"The scariest part was in the beginning, he wasn't moving," Roche said. "It was an emotional locker room when we went in, but I couldn't be more proud of the guys. We probably played as hard as we have all year."
"Obviously it's going to affect how we play and what happens, but we just tried to stay together," said Banks post Blake Gobel. "It sucks, but it's bigger than basketball. I'm glad he's going to be okay."
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