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The Braves' lack of shooting, rebounding, and interior defense proves to be a lethal combination.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Jarred Evans goes up for a lay-up during the Braves' game against North Marion Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School.Sometimes it's just not your day.

That's the way it felt after the Banks boys basketball team dropped a big game to No. 1-ranked North Marion, 52-39, Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School.

The Braves jumped on the Huskies early, even building a 17-10 first quarter lead, but a team full of cold shooting hands, an inability to get crucial rebounds, and subpar interior defense led to a two-point halftime deficit, seven point third quarter debt, and ultimately a loss that could've paid dividends down the road.

"Rebounding and interior defense are kind of our staples, and when that's not working, nothing else really matters," Banks head coach Marc Roche said. "That's our identity."

But not on this night.

Thanks in large part to Banks' Jacob Slifka's absence due to foul trouble, North Marion standout Sergio Jimenez repeatedly got into the paint over the final three quarters, wreaking havoc on a smaller Braves lineup that — at least on this night — wasn't up to the challenge.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Jacob Slifka throws down a dunk during the Braves' game against North Marion Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School."We got in some foul trouble and we had to change up how we were guarding him (Jimenez), and that really hurt us," Roche said. "His ability to break us down, and our inability to get rebounds when he missed was a real problem."

On the other end of the floor, Roche mentioned that the Huskies 2-3 zone really hurt them. The Braves were slow to react to the set up, and with an inability to attack it, they were left to shoot from distance which resulted in a 2-22 night from behind the three-point line.

"We just didn't make smart decisions attacking it," he said. "And when we did get looks and didn't make them, it doesn't give you much of a chance."

Early it looked quite the opposite as Banks hit early and often en route to a big first quarter lead. Slifka and Jarred Evans — two of the Braves' key contributors — accounted for 12 of the first 15 points, and when Cade Buchanan scored late in the opening stanza, Banks (7-5) led 17-8 and appeared poised to walk-over the top-ranked Huskies. North Marion however had a different idea, and put that idea on display in the second quarter, outscoring Banks 13-4 to take a 23-21 lead to the half.

The Huskies (9-2) built their lead to seven in the third quarter, then sadly for the Braves, it was more of the same in the fourth, with the Huskies scoring 13 of the quarter's first 17 points, thanks in large part to Jimenez who was responsible for eight of them.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Cade Buchanan takes a shot during the Braves' game against North Marion Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School."He's a really good player, who had a great night," Roche said.

But while Jimenez is a good player, and he did have a nice night, this game was more about the Braves then it was the Huskies. Banks' apprehension both offensively and on the boards left them unable to gain any momentum, and their shooting ineptitude was the final straw that ultimately broke the back of a comeback bid that never really got started.

Nonetheless, Roche wanted no part of an excuse, and spoke to alternative methods of winning despite a cold night from the field.

"Even on off shooting nights we've got to find ways to win," he said. "We didn't get offensive boards, didn't get in the mix and get second opportunities, and didn't create transition chances, which we normally would. We need to improve on that. We have a great shooting team, but we need to know how to win when we're off."

Another thing the coach wanted little of, was the notion that they were jobbed by the referees. Yes, Banks was on the wrong end of an 18-8 foul differential, but Roche quickly deflected any noise about the calls being a factor in the game.

"I don't have any problem with the calls," the coach said. "We got out of position a lot tonight and we've got to do better guarding on the ball and not relying on help. Sure, the foul trouble was a problem for us, but that's on us, not the refs."

Jimenez' 25 points led all scorers.

Banks was led by Evans' nine points, while Slifka scored eight and grabbed eight rebounds. Charles White had six points, Jackson Walker and Joseph Buliga added five apiece, Buchanan four, and Caiden Taylor had two.

The Braves host Corbett at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday, Jan. 9, and Hood River Valley next Tuesday, Jan. 14.

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