Banks girls take control of the league title chase with a dominant 56-36 victory over second-place Seaside

by: CHASE ALLGOOD - Banks senior Samantha Duyck shoots a jump shot over Astoria's Kiera Olson during last Tuesday's Cowapa League girls basketball game.Last Friday’s girls basketball game between Banks and Seaside was a knock-down, drag-out affair, but with the inside track to a Cowapa League title up for grabs, what else would you expect?

Banks emerged bloodied but not beaten, losing two players to injury along the way, but remaining undefeated in league play with a gritty 56-36 victory.

“It was a wild one,” Banks head coach Nick Rizzo said. “They were missing their star player and two other kids. At the same time, we were mising three kids and had two others get knocked out of the game for a while. Both teams looked like MASH units.”

Among the casualties for Banks was senior wing Kaylin Vandomelen, who left the game and received five stitches under her chin after diving for a loose ball. This on top of a season-ending knee injury for point guard Aubrey Rue and a nagging back injury for post Chelsea Dunthorn.

“The biggest thing for us, quite honestly, is our health. We’re just so incredibly unhealthy right now,” Rizzo said. “We’re so banged up it’s unbelievable.”

Fittingly, the Lady Braves got a boost on Friday from two players who shook off their own injury issues.

Senior post Samantha Duyck, battling a bad back, scored nine of the game’s first 10 points in helping Banks build an early 10-0 lead, and senior guard Lexi Chung, coming off a separated shoulder, scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a pivotal three-point play when Seaside appeared to be building some momentum. Both players finished with a game-high 16 points.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Rizzo said. “Sam just came out on fire and had nine points in the first quarter. Lexi kind of took the game over in the second half. Things were getting a little dicey (in the fourth quarter) and she made a good strong move to the basket and then hit the free throw. That just kind of gave us a little relief.”

The Braves start the second half of league play on Friday against Yamhill-Carlton.

“I guess you can say it’s really in our hands now,” Rizzo said of the league title chase. “If I sound reluctant, it’s because were were in the same position last year and we didn’t wind up with a league championship.

“The bottom line is that you can’t overlook anybody. Now we’ve got to repeat this, and everybody’s probably going to be gunning for us.”

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