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Katie Ensign and Mya Hammack combine for 25 Husky points in a 37-18 Braves loss.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Kate Hailey attacks the defense off the dribble during the Braves' game against North Marion on Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School.'A for effort?' Not on this night.

It's a new year and certainly a new team for the Banks girls basketball squad this season, and through a dozen games the tremendously young group of Braves have competed formidably. But on this night, it was two steps forward, one step back, as Banks showed little fight in a 37-18 loss to North Marion Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Banks High School.

"It was just not a good effort on our part," Banks head coach Brandon Begley said. "We just had no energy, threw the ball away to easily, didn't play with fire, we looked like we didn't want to be out there tonight."

The Braves managed to keep things close through one quarter, but fell behind by 10 at the half, 14 after three quarters, and were ultimately undone by a bigger and — at least on this night — better Husky team.

Katie Ensign and Mya Hammack led the Huskies, combining for 25 points and 12 rebounds. At 5-foot-11, Ensign was a problem all night for the smaller Braves, scoring both inside and out, while mopping-up with rebounds and put-backs.

In addition, Banks — who has but two seniors and six freshmen and sophomores — is still learning to play at the varsity level, and that inexperience is evident in the speed — or lack thereof — at which they're playing.

"We have a team that's not real confident right now, and they overthink everything," Begley said. "They don't just let the game come to them. They don't just go out there and play. Everything is a thought process and it shows."

Banks led early 7-3 after a Maddy Shook 3-pointer, but then scored just three more points in the first half when Morgan Belden splashed a 20-footer midway through the second quarter. North Marion, who also started slow, picked things up in the second quarter, getting 10 late points from Ensign and Hammack to take a 20-10 lead at halftime. Neither team created much offensively in the third, with the Braves getting just a bucket from both Kate Hailey and Madison Walker, while Ensign scored four for the Huskies.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Banks' Madison Walker swipes at the ball during the Braves' game against North Marion on Tuesday night, Jan. 7, at Banks High School.Trailing by just 10 to start the final quarter, Banks' slim hopes of a comeback were thwarted by Ensign who hit a quick 3-pointer to start the fourth, then Megan Netter scored five straight to put North Marion ahead 32-14 before Hailey scored four late points to close-out the Braves scoring.

It was a difficult night in a number of ways for Banks, but without a genuine scoring option, there was little to look forward to as the home team's deficit continued to grow. Begley acknowledged the team's scoring challenges, but also felt like many of their issues could be solved over time.

"I think it's something we're going to have to grow into," he said. "We have to attack more, create some gaps and gain that confidence we need. We'll definitely look at some options to create some offense, but a lot of it goes back to us overthinking."

The coach has been encouraged by what he's seen at times from his team, and spoke to the strides they've made through their own hard work. But at the same time he noted that this was one of the first real setbacks they've had in a season that has been and continues to be about learning on the fly.

"We've had some really good games and some moments we've looked really good, but then we turn around and have moments like this," Begley said. "I think this was the first night where we didn't see any steps forward. Hopefully we get back out tomorrow and continue taking steps forward towards where we want to be."

Hailey led Banks with seven points.

The Braves travel to Corbett for a 7:00 p.m. game Thursday, Jan. 9, then host Newport at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at Banks High School.

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