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State tournament two-fer

Lady Braves finish sixth to highlight the team's first-ever appearance at the state tournament; Banks boys clinch their state tourney berth with a dramatic overtime win against North Valley

The Banks girls basketball team had never won a state playoff game before this year, but the Lady Braves didn't let that lack of experience stop them, storming all the way to the state tournament, where they finished sixth to cap the best season in school history.

Banks lost in the Cowapa League playoffs last year to narrowly miss out on the program's first-ever postseason appearance, but the Braves earned their spot this year with a convincing win over Estacada in the play-in round.

After that, Banks dispatched Philomath in the first round of the playoffs to punch its ticket to the state tournament in Corvallis.

'Of our top 13 girls, 10 have competed in state championships in either softball or volleyball, so they have experience,' Banks head coach Tim Hardie said. 'But those venues are not quite the same as Gill Coliseum.'

The Lady Braves acquitted themselves well despite the lack of postseason experience. Banks lost its tournament opener to second-seeded Madras, but bounced back with an improved performance in a consolation win over Brookings-Harbor.

The ride came to an end on the final day of the tournament with a loss to Mazama, but Hardie was still encouraged by how well his young team performed despite some ups and downs.

'We had some difficulties during the season,' Hardie said, 'but I think we're deeper and I think, strangely, we're a better team because of it.'

For the Banks boys basketball team, the drama and excitement of qualifying for the state tournament may have overshadowed the tournament itself.

Banks surged to a surprise second-place finish in the Cowapa League last winter, winning five of its last six regular-season games, then following that with a play-in victory over Gladstone and a thrilling, double-overtime win over North Valley to clinch a spot in the state tournament.

Senior Colby Seyferth ended that game with a breakaway dunk that sent Banks fans streaming onto the court to celebrate the team's first state tournament appearance since 1985.

'When he went in for that dunk, that was it - the place went nuts,' Banks head coach Pat Marlia said. 'In my eight years here, that's the loudest I've ever heard it in that gym. It was pretty cool.

'These kids weren't even born the last time Banks went to the state tournament.'

Marlia's bunch showed some nerves in their tournament debut, a loss to Mazama that bumped the Braves to the consolation bracket.

'The kids were disappointed, but they were pumped to have another game,' Marlia said. 'We'd been playing games the last two weeks that were basically lose and go home. They knew they had an opportunity.'

That opportunity slipped away with a loss to Cowapa League rival Tillamook on the second day of the tournament, ending Banks' season.