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The Braves win their second straight game and gain momentum



TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Banks' Ian Hutchins pulls up for a shot during his team's 52-44 win over Valley Catholic at Banks High School on Friday night.There was a time, midway through the second quarter of the Valley Catholic boys basketball team's Friday night game against Banks when the Valiants had the Braves right where they wanted them.

There was another moment, 2 ½ minutes into the third period, where Valley Catholic once again had Banks on the ropes, leading by eight points and seemingly in control.

The Braves, however, had other ideas.

Banks clamped down defensively, got its offensive house in order and took over for the final 13 minutes of the game, eventually pulling away to win 52-44 at Banks High School. The win lifted the 15th-ranked Braves' Cowapa League record to 2-2 (10-8 overall) and put them in a third-place tie with the both Seaside and the Valiants.

“It meant a lot to beat a private school like Valley Catholic and get a win against them,” said Banks junior Jake Evans, who finished with 12 points in the win. “I think it's our first win against them in basketball in league so it's good to finally get it over.”

“Earlier in the year, we had problems finishing,” added Banks sophomore Dalton Renne, who led his team with 17 points, including an 8 of 10 performance at the foul line in the game's final 1 minute, 54 seconds. “But we worked hard in practice, worked at ... trying to get it like games every day, and we're getting better at it every day.”

Given the success they'd had earlier in the game, the 10th-ranked Valiants couldn't help thinking they'd let one slip away. With the loss, Valley Catholic fell to 2-2 in league and 11-6 overall.

“They got more offensive rebounds tonight,” said Valley Catholic sophomore Andrew Plambeck, who led all scorers with 19 points, 14 of those in the first half. “They probably got twice as many as us and we probably had twice as many turnovers as them. That's what changed the game right there.”

“They came out a lot harder than us at the beginning and we never really matched that so give credit to them,” added VC junior Joey Braun, who added eight points in the loss. “They played harder than us, but we didn't really play like ourselves.”

Plambeck was on fire early, knocking down five straight shots to open the contest, four of them three-pointers. The Braves countered with a balanced attack in the first quarter and led 9-8 after one period, but saw Plambeck's long-range marksmanship — as well as Valley's half-court trap — begin to take its toll in the second.

The Valiants opened that quarter on a 10-3 run, that stretch capped when Jack Grasberger set up another Plambeck bomb from the left wing that pushed Valley Catholic to an 18-12 lead with 3:52 remaining in the half.

Banks rallied back within 21-19 at the half thanks a five-point outburst from freshman post Blake Gobel, but saw VC start fast again in the third quarter. The Valiants opened the second half on a 7-1 run and grabbed their biggest lead at 28-20 when Plambeck took an inbound pass from Braun and hit a jumpshot from the right side with 5:35 left in the quarter.

For a second time, however, Banks closed out the quarter with momentum, outscoring VC 13-6 the rest of the way to cut its deficit to just 34-33. Along the way, the Braves got four points from Renne, a three-point play by Tyler Kemper, and two points apiece from Evans, David Schorn and Emmy Carrizales.

This time, however, Banks was able to carry its momentum over into the fourth quarter, tying the game on an Evans three-pointer, then taking the lead for good two possessions later when Trent Ward set up Evans for an inside hoop that made it 38-36 with 5:03 left to play.

The two teams traded punches the rest of the way, with Valley getting another Plambeck “three” and two driving hoops from Braun, but it wasn't enough. Banks held Valley Catholic to just 3 of 9 shooting the rest of the way and saw Renne put the game away at the foul line, making 8 of 10 free throws in the final 1:54 while Ian Hutchins knocked down 2 of 4.

“We knocked down free throws and we stopped (Plambeck) because he lit it up in the first half,” Renne explained. “We just contested everything and made plays down the stretch.”

“It was kind of rough going 0-2 (in league to) start, but now we're 2-2,” Evans added. “We've bounced back and we have a chance to get a league title.”

The Valiants undoubtedly harbor league title hopes of their own, but after Friday's loss, were focused instead on the tasks immediately before them.

“We've just got to move on and get ready for practice on Sunday,” Plambeck said.

Gobel added six for Banks, while Daniel Hardy and Ben Robbins added five each for Valley Catholic.

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