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Braves soar to victories

After two straight losses to open the season, Banks' boys team starts to get things figured out in a pair of non-league wins over Toledo and Gladstone
by: Tommy Whitcomb, Banks senior Jeff Stradling (No. 5) plays some defense in the Braves' 57-53 win over Gladstone last Tuesday.

Banks dropped its first two games of the season but bounced back in grand fashion last week, winning two straight against Toledo and Gladstone and coming painfully short of making it three in a row against Clatskanie.

The Braves (2-3), whose three losses have come by a combined 17 points, got back on track a week ago against Toledo, posting a 66-59 victory. They made it two straight with a 57-53 nail-biter against Gladstone in the team's home opener last Tuesday, then overcame a 19-point first-half deficit to make things interesting on Friday against Clatskanie.

The Braves, who trailed 27-9 at the end of the first quarter, sliced the deficit to seven points by halftime and went ahead 78-77 with 29 seconds left. Three straight turnovers killed the comeback effort, however, and Clatskanie sealed the win from the charity stripe, knocking down six straight free throws.

Senior standout Jeff Stradling erupted for 30 points, while Nathan Horlacher added 18 in the losing effort. Josh Marsh chipped in 11 and Cub Shulund had 10.

'We kind of got caught in a hole,' said Banks head coach Norm Ballou. 'We came back pretty good, but we're not at the point in the season where we know what to do in those close games. Hopefully that will help us down the stretch.'

The highlights of the week, however, were undoubtedly the wins over Toledo and Gladstone. Senior Jordan Quinones turned in two stellar performances, going for 18 points and six rebounds against Toledo, then following it up with a 25-point effort to lead the way against Gladstone.

'Jordan's doing a great job,' said Ballou. 'He's got a lot of hustle.'

Banks led the whole way against Gladstone but threatened to give the game away late in the fourth quarter as the Gladiators pulled within two, 55-53.

Stradling came through in the clutch, however, scoring on a short jumper with 20 seconds left to push the lead back to four, and the Braves hung on the rest of the way.

Stradling and Horlacher each had 11 points to complement Quinones' 25-point performance.

'It was a see-saw battle back and forth all night,' said Ballou. 'Luckily we were able to hold them off.'

Against Toledo, Banks was able to shake off a four-point halftime deficit and pull ahead 49-46 heading into the final stanza. The Braves hung on down the stretch and picked up a seven-point victory.

'In the middle of the fourth we kind of took the game over,' said Ballou. 'It felt pretty good, because the night before we lost by three to Molalla. Back-to-back games, on the road - it was nice to get a win. The kids felt pretty good about themselves.'

Stradling and Horlacher each had 11 points in that game.

Next on the docket is Banks' annual tournament, which will kick off on Saturday morning. Riverdale pulled out of the tourney at the last minute, so all six games will be played on Saturday.

Banks will open the tourney against Rainier at 11 a.m.