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Braves guards Kate Hailey and Camila Narvaez combine for 21 points in defeat.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks sophomore Hailey Evans drives to the basket during the Braves' game against the Valiants Thursday night, May 27, at Banks High School.In a year like this, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

The Banks girls basketball team played admirably but ultimately got cold at the wrong time, leading to a 49-43 defeat to Cowapa League rival Valley Catholic Thursday night, May 27, at Banks High School.

The Valiants were led by senior guard Josie Napoli, who tallied 27 points, including seven of Valley Catholic's final 10 points, as the visitors turned a two-point deficit into a six-point road win.

"She's one of the best players in the 4A, for sure," Banks head coach Brandon Begley said of Napoli. "She can hurt you in a lot of ways. She finds her teammates. If you sag off of her, she's going to hit a three. She can get to the basket. It's tough.

"If you're not playing hard and focusing for 32 minutes, she can really put you away."

And she did that.

Valley led by six points after a quarter and four at the half before the Braves rallied to a two-point lead after three quarters, thanks to a relatively balanced attack spearheaded by seniors Camila Narvaez and Kate Hailey.

The two guards combined for 21 points in the game and fought for points both in the paint and from the outside.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Kate Hailey dribbles around a Valley Catholic defender Josie Napoli during the Braves' game against the Valiants Thursday night, May 27, at Banks High School."Kate really had a lot on her plate because she was guarding their best player and that's really taxing on the defensive end, but overall, I thought she had a really good game," Begley said. "And Camilla was just relentless tonight. She really attacked the basket and really got us going when we were struggling there at the beginning."

It was all Napoli early on, as the guard scored the Valiants' first eight points en route to a quick 8-3 lead. Banks rallied, however, thanks to baskets from Hailey, junior Maggie Streblow and Nya Johnson to pull within 15-11 partway through the second quarter.

The remainder of the first half saw the Braves draw closer, thanks again to Hailey and Narvaez, in addition to a duo of other contributors: guard Hailey Evans and sophomore post Madison Walker, the latter of whom finished with six points and a team-leading eight rebounds.

"Walker has been playing great for us this year," Begley said. "She's starting to get that confidence and starting to really figure out positioning. I think that's really been helping her both scoring-wise and rebounding."

Banks started the fourth quarter with a Maddy Shook three-pointer, got another quick basket from Johnson, tied the game when sophomore Alex Saunders hit two free throws, and then took its first lead of the night when Walker hit two free throws to put the Braves up 39-37 heading to the game's final stanza.

Unfortunately for the Braves, however, that was the last lead they would have in this one. Napoli and Valiants senior Lauren Snook took over from there, pushing Valley Catholic's lead to as much as eight before the final horn sounded at 49-43.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Camila Narvaez fights for a rebound during the Braves' game against the Valiants Thursday night, May 27, at Banks High School.For the most part, Begley was happy with his team's performance, but he noted that the same thing that's plaguing a lot of teams during this year's abnormal season — a lack of reps — is plaguing his as well.

Many kids just recently finished with spring sports, so without the necessary practices to glue the team together, coaches and players are still trying to familiarize themselves with how things work, together.

"It's tough for everybody," Begley said. "Some kids are learning things right away, but then the new kids come in and haven't been there and they're trying to learn things on the fly and it just makes it rough. Everybody wants to be on the same page, but it's going to take a couple of weeks to feel like they're back in the swing of things."

While never pleased with a loss, Begley said he's proud of his team and expects better things to come as they work through the final few weeks of the season.

"We had some moments where we looked good, and some stretches where we really struggled," the coach said. "Overall, I'm happy with how the kids played. I'm proud of the kids for battling, and I know we'll continue to work things out and improve over this short season."

Banks scorers: Streblow 2, Narvaez 13, Hailey 8, Saunders 4, Johnson 3, Shook 3, Walker 6, Evans 4.

Valley Catholic scorers: Wilder 2, Napoli 27, Trecker 4, Gunther 4, Snook 10.


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