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Braves still hoping for surge in league play

BASKETBALL: Banks is hoping to rebound as Cowapa League play swings into high gear

The losses continue to pile up on the basketball court at Banks, but hope has not been abandoned quite yet.

The Braves sit at 2-11 overall and 0-1 in Cowapa League play after last Thursday's 55-37 loss to Scappoose, but head coach Norm Ballou feels like the puzzle pieces are starting to come together for his young team.

'The kids have improved drastically, but we get into crunch time and we just can't seal the deal,' Ballou said.

That was evident over the holiday break when Banks lost all five of its games by an average margin of 7.8 points. That streak included two nail-biters - a 55-52 loss to Central Linn at the Amity Tournament and a 45-40 non-league loss to Gladstone.

'We're closing the gap, we just have to get over the hill,' Ballou said. 'We're starting to play a whole lot better.'

Last Thursday's loss to Scappoose (7-8, 1-1) was a microcosm of the season so far. The Braves hung close for a while, trailing by just five points at halftime, before falling away in the second half behind a barrage of turnovers. Banks committed 22 turnovers in the game, allowing the five-point halftime deficit to grow to 20 points by the end of the third quarter.

'Scappoose played pretty tough man-to-man defense,' Ballou said. 'They took us out of our offense and they jumped on us pretty good. We had 22 turnovers. You're just not going to win a game doing that.'

One of the bright spots for Ballou has been the play of the team's two freshmen - Trask Bowden and Devin Armstrong.

'I've been real happy with the play of those young kids,' he said. 'They've gotten some good experience and it's helped out our bench a lot.'

Banks has just two seniors on the roster this year, so Ballou hopes that the experience gained during the team's early-season ups and downs will pay dividends as the Cowapa League season swings into high gear over the next two months.

'The next few games will decide a lot of things about who finishes where in the league this year,' Ballou said.

Banks hosts Astoria (8-5, 1-1) on Thursday and Yamhill-Carlton (1-11, 0-1) next Tuesday in a make-up game.