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Banks earns five all-league selections


Cowapa honors roll in for the Lady Braves after an undefeated season in league play

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: ZACK PALMER - Senior point guard Lexi Chung was one of five Banks players selected to the All-Cowapa League girls basketball team earlier this month.Three years ago, the Banks girls basketball team had never won a Cowapa League championship. The Lady Braves had never won a state playoff game or qualified for the state tournament.

How quickly things can change.

Three weeks ago, Banks finished an undefeated season in Cowapa play, capturing the first regular-season league title in school history, and last week the Braves capped their third consecutive appearance at the Class 4A state tournament in Corvallis, launching the program’s status from longtime doormat to perennial contender.

And in recognition of those accomplishments, five Banks players were named to the All-Cowapa League girls basketball team, which was announced over the weekend.

Senior forward Riley Gerlinger shared the league’s Player of the Year award with Seaside’s Emily Becker, and senior forward Kaylin Vandomelen was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Seniors Samantha Duyck and Lexi Chung were also First Team All-League selections, and senior Kayla Hardie earned Honorable Mention status.

“This was a great team to coach, and just an unbelievable group of seniors,” said Banks head coach Nick Rizzo, who was honored as the league’s Coach of the Year. “They worked incredibly hard and did absolutely everything we asked of them. There’s no way we’ll be able to replace these seven seniors.”

Part of what made this year’s Banks team so tough was its tenacious defense and balanced offense. All five players that were selected to the all-league team averaged between seven and 10 points per game.

Gerlinger was a defensive nightmare at the top of the Banks zone, deflecting passes and creating turnovers to help spark the Braves’ transition offense. She finished the season averaging a team-best 10.0 points per game, along with 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.0 assists per contest.

Vandomelen was similarly disruptive defensively, averaging 4.0 steals per game and leading the team with 45 “skins,” which are hustle plays like diving for a loose ball or taking a charge. She also averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Duyck was a force in the paint, averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, while also getting 3.0 steals and blocking 2.5 shots per game.

Chung, pressed into a leadership role when senior point guard Aubrey Rue tore her ACL in January, finished the season averaging 7.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

Hardie was the team’s top three-point shooting threat, and ended the year averaging 8.5 points per game.

“I just can’t say enough about this team,” Rizzo said. “This was a real special bunch.”