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Banks boys enjoy Rose Garden experience


Despite losing to Estacada, the Braves feel like they are making steady improvements

Two summers ago, Banks boys basketball coach Pat Marlia was approached by Estacada coach Kevin Kirchhofer about playing a game in the Rose Garden, the arena where the Portland Trail Blazers play their home games.

Marlia jumped at the opportunity.

“I was an assistant coach at Forest Grove when we played David Douglas there one year and it was an awesome experience,” Marlia said. “So I knew that it would be a great experience for the kids, win or lose.”

The game was set up and arrangements were made. Then, the NBA lockout happened and the Banks-Estacada matchup was pushed out of the Rose Garden.

Last summer, the mother of Banks senior Tucker Sahnow began talking with Marlia about rescheduling the game in the Rose Garden.

“She and I both worked together on selling the tickets and it worked out great with Estacada,” Marlia said.

The game was played last Tuesday. The boys team sat in the stands and watched the girls defeat Estacada 44-15. When it was finally the Braves’ turn to step onto the Rose Garden floor, it was everything Marlia had imagined it would be for his players.

“It was a great experience for the kids,” Marlia said. “They were pretty excited the whole day leading up to the Rose Garden. It was cool for them to enter the Rose Garden through the back doors and walk into the locker rooms and see it from a player’s side instead of a fan who walks in there to see the Portland Trail Blazers play.

“They were in there shooting around about an hour before the girls game started. They were just in awe of how the backboard was set up and the shot clock lights. It was a cool experience for them. They had never been down there on the floor and played, so for them, it was a once in a lifetime type opportunity.”

Here is how Marlia describes the game:

“We were down six at halftime. Then we battled back (to take a 34-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter). But, we were 13-of-27 from the free throw line. Being in the environment of the Rose Garden helped us not shoot as well from the free throw line. Typically we’re a better free throw shooting team than that.”

With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Banks had a 46-45 lead.

“It should have never been that close,” Marlia lamented.

The game ended with the Braves feeling totally gutted after Estacada’s Ryan Vauthier went the length of the court and sunk a layup to defeat Banks, 47-46.

“We knew who was going to get the ball at the end of the game,” Marlia said. “We played good defense on him throughout the length of the court and he was just able to get by our guys and get that layup up. It was still a tough shot that he made.”

It was about as difficult of a loss for Banks (1-4) as Marlia could imagine.

“It was hard,” Marlia said. “The players were down, we were down as a coaching staff. That hurt. We really wanted to get that win.”

Still, Marlia believes that even losing a heartbreaker, his players will be able to look back at playing at the Rose Garden as an experience of a lifetime.

“The kids are able to take away a pretty cool experience,” Marlia said. “It’s an experience that those seniors will never have again.”

Banks will play the rest of its games this season at far less spectacular venues. However, Marlia would like to see the Braves play at the Rose Garden again very soon.

“From the boys side — I’m not going to speak from the girls side — but I’d like that to become an annual thing for the boys,” Marlia said. “Whether it will be with Estacada or not, I’m not sure. But (for the Banks boys), I want to get in there so that the kids get to have that experience.”