The Braves beat the Outlaws 46-38 and are paced by senior Dalton Renne and junior Blake Gobel

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Dakota Bunn goes up for a contested lay-in during the Braves' state quarterfinal game against Sisters March 8 at FGHS.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, 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."

Banks built a 10-4 lead after quarter-one primarily on the backs of Gobel and sophomore forward Jacob Slifka. Sisters never got closer than five in the second and the Braves led 22-15 at the half, despite Renne's slow start and six points and eight rebounds from bruising Outlaw center Ty Horner.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Dalton Renne tries a reverse lay-in during the Braves' state quarterfinal game against Sisters March 8 at FGHS.The game appeared to be moving further in Banks' favor to start the third, as Renne scored the Braves' first eight points of the stanza to push the lead to 12. But Sisters didn't quit, scoring seven straight, capped by a Horner 12-footer to get within four to end the quarter. The 6-foot-9 senior who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, battered the Braves inside, getting critical offensive rebounds and doing his part to keep the Outlaws in the game.

"I think it hurt that Gobel picked up two fouls in the first half, so he had to back off him a bit," Renne said. "But he made some nice midrange shots and got some big offensive rebounds for them."

Banks scored the first six points of the fourth to push the lead to 10, then when Dakota Bunn finished a fast break to push the lead to 12, the game again appeared to be in hand. Yet, the Outlaws started to make shots, the Braves appeared to tighten-up, and before you knew it the lead was four and the Banks faithful were on the edge of their seats.

But a Bunn lay-in with 59-seconds left made it 42-36, then following a Horner bucket, two Bunn free throws with 30-seconds remaining iced the game and sent the Braves to a Friday night semifinal game against league rival Valley Catholic.

"It's going to be a good game," said Renne. "But we just need to execute against their zone and be ready to play."

Banks' semifinal versus Valley is scheduled for Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Forest Grove High.

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