Braves had knocked off the Gladstone Gladiators last month

In a battle of two top-10 teams last Tuesday, the Lady Braves could not quite make it two wins in a row against one of the best Class 4A girls basketball teams in the state.

Facing Gladstone (No. 2 in the OSAA rankings before Tuesday night's games) for the second time in two weeks, Banks fell 47-43 in front of a packed home gym. The loss snapped the No. 8 Lady Braves' eight-game win streak.

'It was a pretty darn entertaining game to watch, from a fan's perspective,' Banks coach Nick Rizzo said of Friday night's rematch.

Back on Dec. 28 in the Cascade Holiday Classic Tournament in Turner, the Lady Braves defeated Gladstone 44-38 to deal the Gladiators their only loss of the season to date.

The Lady Braves carried a 19-13 advantage into the second quarter, thanks in part to some hot shooting in the first quarter. But Gladstone opened the third quarter with a pair of three-pointers to tie the game.

From there the teams traded runs, with the Gladiators holding a 31-30 advantage heading into the final eight minutes of play.

'That's when things got away from us a little bit,' Rizzo observed.

Trailing late in the game, the Lady Braves twice managed to get within two points of Gladstone but could draw no closer.

'They executed a little bit better than we did,' Rizzo said of the Gladiators, adding that they knocked down shots at key moments.

Marla Gooding led the Lady Braves with 14 points, four rebounds and three steals. Riley Gerlinger added 12 points, three rebounds and three steals. Rizzo also pointed out that Lexi Chung played a solid game on defense and worked well within the team's offense.

Gooding and Gerlinger were also efficient with their shots, going 6 of 11 and 6 of 8 from the field, respectively.

The rest of the squad did not fare quite as well, as Banks shot just 18 of 52 (34.6 percent) from the field and 4 of 11 (36.4 percent) from the free throw line. Rizzo said his squad probably missed about 20 layups.

'Bottom line is we shot atrociously for the game, when it's all said and done,' Rizzo said.

Still, in a season in which Banks has had relatively few close games, the loss could provide dividends down the road.

The game's timing was perfect, Rizzo pointed out, with league play approaching.

'We're motivated now, I'll say that,' Rizzo said, adding that Banks has put in some highly competitive practices since the loss.

The Lady Braves rebounded with a comfortable 62-22 victory at Taft on Friday to raise their season record to 9-2. Melissa Masters led a balanced team scoring effort with 11 points.

Banks is scheduled to open Cowapa League play Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Seaside in a game that was postponed a day due to inclement weather. The Lady Braves travel to No. 10 Tillamook Friday for a showdown against the Cheesemakers, the defending league champions, who were undefeated heading into their scheduled matchup against Astoria Tuesday night.

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