The Braves stifle the Seagulls defensively and get 30 points from senior wing Dalton Renne in the victory.

STAFF PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Dalton Renne works around a Seaside defender during the Braves' game against the Seagulls Jan. 30 at Banks High School.Big-time games are for big-time players.

Banks had a big-time game versus No. 2-ranked Seaside Jan. 23, and while the Seagulls were playing without one of their marquee personnel, the Braves' Dalton Renne came to play — and he had his A-game.

"I had my shot going and looked to attack early," said Renne. "Once I made my first three shots I knew I could get to the rim and be successful there."

Seaside — playing without all-league starting junior guard Chase Januik — was for the most part overwhelmed by a stout Banks defense and Renne's relentless offensive attack, and wilted amidst a hostile Banks crowd in a 60-33 defeat at Banks High School.

"I was excited to see our guys play in this game tonight because I wanted to see how they'd respond," said Seaside head coach Bill Westerholm. "I knew it was going to be a nice crowd and not a very friendly crowd, and we didn't respond real well."

The Braves were led by Renne's 30 points, in addition to another solid outing from 6-foot-7 post Blake Gobel, who scored 11 points while grabbing seven rebounds. But it was again Banks' defense that set the tone, as the Braves' continually disrupted Seaside's half-court offense with a nice mix of both man and zone defense.

"Were a very good defensive team and we have guys that come off our bench that are better defensively than our starters," Renne said with a smile. "It's tough to play against us."

Gobel got the game started with a quick lay-in to put the Braves up 2-0, but after Banks' Trevor Geraci hit a jumper and Ryan Hague nailed a three-pointer to pull the Gulls within 4-3, it was the Dalton Renne show for the remainder of the half. The senior wing scored the Braves' next 10 points, then added five more to end the half, including a buzzer-beating trey to send the home team to the locker room leading 22-11.

"That late three was huge," Renne said. "When I hit that at the end of the half, I fed off of that."

True. But before he could put a final nail in the defending state champions' coffin, Seaside would hang around with an early third quarter effort led by juniors Duncan Thompson and Payton Westerholm, who kept the Seagulls within 10 with a series of tough finishes at the rim. But with Banks leading 26-16 midway through the third quarter, the Braves closed the quarter on a 9-0 run spearheaded by Renne, Gobel, and junior reserve Dakota Bunn to give Banks a 35-16 lead.

It was more of the same for Banks in the final stanza, as Renne tacked-on 12 more points to open-up a 52-21 lead. But while the standout wing's offensive production was key, it continues to be the Braves defense that lights this team's fire.

"I was just really pleased with the effort defensively," said Banks head coach Marcus Roche. "We talk in practice about getting back and set up, because we're really good at that point. We drill a lot in the half-court with both man and zone, and it's nice to be able to mix that up. Our identity is protecting the hoop and making every shot difficult."

Westerholm acknowledged Banks' effort, but was also quick to point out his own team's deficiencies in defeat, as well as being undermanned.

"We were without one of our leading scorers and one of our posts, both kids that have been contributing forces to our team, and we became very stagnant tonight against a very good Banks team," said Westerholm. "Defensively in the first half we did okay, but offensively we were disorganized. We had close to 30 turnovers tonight and you're not going to beat a good team when you do that. But we'll figure things out for next time."

And the Seaside coach wasn't the only one disappointed with the lack of a couple of their key contributors. Gobel, Renne, and Roche all were a bit bummed by Januik's absence, despite hearing prior of his injury.

"I was bummed when Januik wasn't playing," said Renne. "I like playing against him because it brings more hype to the game. I like playing the best competition. If you want to win a league title or state title, you've got to play the best to get there."

Now Banks prepares for another tough league foe, No. 12-ranked Tillamook who the Braves host Friday, Feb. 2 at Banks High. But while preparing for the Cheesemakers like they do everyone on their schedule, Gobel may have summed-up his team's performance against Seaside, as well as throughout the year to this point best.

"There's something special going on here," Gobel said.

And it's hard not to agree.

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