Banks advanced to the state tournament in 2011, but won only four games last season

After a successful season two years ago, the Banks boys basketball team graduated 11 seniors. With the loss of those players who helped the Braves go 7-3 in the Cowapa League, Banks fell off a little last year, going 1-9 in league.

“Last season was kind of a tough one,” Banks coach Pat Marlia says. “It was just kind of a small school, starting over. We went through a new wave of kids. Last year was a growing experience and a learning experience for everyone. Replacing 11 kids is tough to do.”

Marlia is hoping that going through growing pains last season will pay dividends for the Braves this season.

“That’s going to help us a little bit,” Marlia says. “We’ve got some kids coming back who have some experience where the year before we didn’t. We have three starters returning and we have a couple of guys coming off the bench who saw some time for us last year. Hopefully that’s going to help us out this season.”

The immediate challenge for Banks is getting the numerous football players on the team back to playing basketball.

“We only recently got our football players out,” Marlia says. “We’re looking a little rusty right now. We’re looking like we haven’t touched a basketball in a while.

“But, it’s a great group of kids. They work hard. There’s not much motivating that we have to do to get these kids to work hard. They just kind of have it in them. But, we’re rusty.”

The Braves will be very guard heavy this season.

Aaron Streblow “started most of our games last year as kind of a defensive kid,” Marlia says. “He came a long ways in summer league and started to really find some confidence.”

Nolan Hill “is a guard who we’re looking to be real physical and strong with,” Marlia says.

Zach Olson “is more of a shooting guard,” Marlia says. “We’re going to need him to catch some fire.”

The Braves also have Tucker Sahnow coming back from a knee injury he suffered in a four-wheeler accident that kept him out the duration of last season.

“We’re hoping that he can come in and give us some scoring,” Marlia says.

Banks will depend on Thomas Blatner to play well in the post.

“I don’t know if I’d call him a center because he’s only about 6-1, Marlia says. “But he’s just a real strong physical kid.”

When the season gets started, Marlia’s first goal is for Banks to perform better in league play than the Braves did a year ago. After that, he just wants to see improvement from his players day-in and day-out.

“We want to do better in league than we did last year,” Marlia says. “That’s a goal of ours. But, our real goal with this group — especially since they are a lot of football players — is getting in and getting after it every day, having hard, competitive practices and really getting better at their basketball skills everyday.

“More than anything, our goal right now is to focus on each practice, work on a couple of skills and get better at those skills. Hopefully, if we get better at those skills, we’ll have good outcomes in some games.”

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