Banks girls basketball and volleyball teams both go unbeaten in league and finish in the top six at state

If possible, the Banks volleyball and girls basketball teams reached new levels of excellence this season.

This past fall and winter, the Braves capped their seasons with a third-place state finish in volleyball and a sixth-place trophy in basketball. In the run-up to both of those tournament appearances, Banks was unstoppable in league play, as both teams recorded undefeated seasons — along with the softball team in the spring — to to kick off an incredible unblemished run in Cowapa League competition this school year.

In the fall, the Lady Braves cruised to a 22-6 overall record and a 10-0 mark in the league. In November at the state tournament in Eugene, they breezed to a three-set win against Phoenix in the quarterfinals before being surprised by league rival Astoria in a four-set semifinal loss.

But the Braves bounced back in the third-place match, turning back Madras in three sets to send the team’s four seniors out with a victory.

“All in all it was a good state tournament,” Banks coach Suzanne Alley said. “I was happy for them. We went from a team that a lot of people didn’t even expect to make the tournament to finishing third for the second year in a row. It was a great way to end the season.”

In basketball, that sixth-place trophy did not quite match the third-place hardware the team won at the end of the 2011-12 season, but the Braves certainly earned their honors. A litany of injuries decimated the squad, as four of the team’s seven seniors — Aubrey Rue (ACL), Lexi Chung (shoulder), Riley Gerlinger (ankle) and Samantha Duyck (hand) — all suffered from maladies.

In a show of Banks’ mettle and resolve, the team went 22-5 overall, 10-0 in Cowapa play for its first-ever league title, and 1-2 at the state tournament in Corvallis in March.

At state, the squad suffered a heartbreaking 49-47 quarterfinal loss to La Grande in which Lauren Birr’s potential game-winning three-pointer went partway down the basket only to pop back out. The Braves bounced back the following day with a 25-21 win against Junction City in consolation play to assure themselves of a trophy before losing 48-36 to La Salle in the fourth-place contest.

At the end of the basketball season, Gerlinger, who had earlier been named the Cowapa League Co-Player of the Year, was also awarded first team all-state honors.

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