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Banks boys unlucky during Cowapa stretch run

BASKETBALL: Braves fall out of the playoff chase with three losses
by: Tommy Whitcomb, Banks junior Neal Hammond catches a pass during the Braves’ Cowapa League home game against Seaside on Feb. 13.

Despite a largely sub-par season, the Banks boys basketball team was still in the Cowapa League playoff picture as late as Feb. 8 following a 50-42 upset win over Scappoose. But three losses in the season's final three games dashed the Braves' playoff hopes and sunk the team into a tie with Yamhill-Carlton for last place in the league.

After falling two games off the pace in the league standings, Banks had to win at Astoria on Feb. 15 to stay alive in the playoff hunt. The Braves hung around until the final minutes when Astoria (16-8, 8-2) pulled away from the free throw line, eventually winning 43-34.

Banks (4-18, 2-8) got 12 points from senior Josh Marsh and nine from junior Neal Hammond, but the Braves were hampered by only getting to the free throw line twice in the second half.

A week later the Braves closed out their season at home against league champ Tillamook (17-5, 10-0). The Cheesemakers built an 11-point halftime lead and steadily pulled away in the second half en route to a 60-36 season-ending victory.

Hammond led the way with 11 points while Jared Rue chipped in eight.

The good news for Banks is that the team loses just two seniors - Marsh and guard Alden Bayless. Seven other players will return with varsity experience next year.

Marsh was named to the All-Cowapa League team after a solid senior campaign. Rue was an Honorable Mention selection.