The Banks girls basketball team is going to have a steep learning curve this season under first-year head coach Bradley Dunn-meier, and the team's relative inexperience reared its head in the first week with three lopsided losses.

The Lady Braves lost by 16, 32 and 17 last week in non-conference warm-ups against North Marion, Molalla and Toledo.

'This is going to be one of those exponential curves,' said Dunn-meier. 'We'll start out slowly but get much better as the season goes on.'

The slow start was no exaggeration, as Banks scored just three points in the first half of its season-opener against North Marion last Tuesday. The Lady Braves (0-3) eventually clawed back within shouting distance, but ultimately fell 36-20. Olivia Nehrer led the team with five points.

'We weren't hitting our shots, North Marion was pressing us pretty hard and we were throwing the ball away,' said Dunn-meier of his team's performance.

Things didn't get much better on Thursday against Molalla, but this time it was the second half that gave Banks fits. The Lady Braves were in contention at the break but scored just 11 points after halftime in a 58-26 loss to the Indians. Senior post Andrea O'Connor was a bright spot with 11 points, and Whitney Blok chipped in eight more.

It was O'Connor whose star continued to shine on Friday against Toledo, pumping in 21 points as her teammates consistently fed her the ball on the low blocks. Unfortunately, it was not enough as Toledo pulled away in the second half. Banks trailed by just six points after three quarters of play, but Toledo went on a 20-9 run in the fourth quarter to secure a 55-38 victory.

'We had a lot of turnovers toward the end of the game,' said Dunn-meier. 'They pressed us a lot in the fourth quarter.'

Still, Dunn-meier likes who he's seen so far and is optimistic about this year's squad.

'I've seen lots of improvement already,' said Dunn-meier. 'We went from one good quarter in the first game to two good quarters in the second game and three good quarters in the third game.'

Dunn-meier also highlighted the defensive performance of Katie Brower, who has drawn the task of defending each opponents' top scorer and done an excellent job.

'Katie is doing a great job on defense,' he said. 'She guarded Toledo's best player and held her to nine points, and the girl was averaging over 20 a game.'

After playing two of their first three games at home, the Lady Braves will hit the road this week for non-conference tilts with Gladstone and Clatskanie.

Dunn-meier sees his team getting better in front of his eyes, and he is also excited about the return of Amber Craft, who missed the first three games with complications from a foot fracture.

'She's bigger and rebounds well, so it will be good to get her in the lineup,' Dunn-meier said of Craft, one of five returning varsity players from a year ago. 'We need her experience.'

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