COWAPA BASKETBALL: Brave Girls Clinch Cowapa Title, Boys Fall in OT Thriller

It was a memorable night of basketball at Banks High School Thursday night.

With the parking lot practically full more than an hour before the tipoff of the girls varsity game, one could sense this was not an ordinary night. The Braves girls avenged their only Cowapa League loss of the season leading nearly start-t0-finish in a 39-30 victory over Seaside to earn a share of their second consecutive Cowapa League title. The Braves boys took the top-ranked Gulls to overtime before Chase Janiuk banked in a 19-foot, step-back jumper with a second to go to give Seaside a 70-68 victory and a share of their second straight Cowapa title.

Both Braves teams will be in action Tuesday. The girls will face Seaside one more time in a rubber match tiebreaker to be played at Tillamook. The winner will earn an automatic berth into the 4A state tournament round of 16. The loser will likely host a play-in round game the following Saturday. The Braves boys will host a Cowapa League, loser-out playoff game on Tuesday. The Seaside boys will face Valley Catholic in a first-place tiebreaker following the Banks-Seaside girls game Tuesday night.

The Lady Braves stormed out to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and never trailed from there, although the Seagulls would close to within five at the half following a quick series of calls that had Braves’ head coach Brandon Begley barking mad on the sideline. Gulls’ star Maddi Utti drew a foul and hit the first of one-and-one foul shots. After missing the second, the Braves corraled the rebound and sophomore Aspen Slifka used a classic jump-stop, step-through move to lay it in, only to see the basket waved off on a traveling violation. On Seaside’s final possession of the half, Seaside sophomore guard Annaka Garhofer attempted a three just before the buzzer and was fouled, hitting two of the resulting three free throws after a long delay as the officials sorted out who the foul was on and how many free throws she should have.

After trading buckets early in the third quarter, the Braves clamped down on defense and held Seaside scoreless for more than six-and-a-half minutes, pushing out to a 32-21 lead at the end of the third quarter. Seaside would pull within six on a Bryre Babbitt three-pointer with 1:16 to go, but the Gulls turned the ball over on three of their last four possessions while the Braves hit three free throws to close out the win.

Anna Klein led all scorers with 16 points and added 10 rebounds and two steals. Slifka dished out six assists to go with 14 points. Banks limited the future Fresno State Bulldog Utti to 13 points in the game. She had scored a career-high 37 points in Seaside’s 62-58 win over Banks on January 31 and followed that up with a 31 point triple-double against Astoria a little over a week later. Banks held Seaside to 27-percent shooting (12-45). Neither team exactly singed the nets, as the Braves shot 32-percent (14-44) and the two teams combined to go 1-fo-19 from three-point range. Banks was strong on the glass all night, outrebounding Seaside 39-27 with a 10-7 edge on the offensive glass.

The second half of the doubleheader didn’t get off to a flying start as both Banks and Seaside misfired early. Banks led for much of the first quarter, but Seaside closed the period on a 6-0 run to take a 14-12 lead and continued with the first seven points of the second quarter to take its largest lead of the game at 21-12 with 4:51 to go in the first half. The Braves came right back with an 8-0 run and it was game on the rest of the way.

Seaside took a 27-21 lead at halftime before a back-and-forth third quarter that featured four ties and two lead changes. The Braves finally found their three-point shooting stroke after going 3-for-13 in the first half. Kylan Taylor opened the half with a triple and Dalton Renne and Ian Hutchins canned back-to-back treys to tie the game at 32-32. The Gulls took a 44-41 lead into the fourth quarter, but had to sit senior guard Hunter Thompson, who picked up his fourth foul in the quarter.

Back-to-back threes by Hutchins and Taylor put Banks up 54-49, their largest lead, with just under four minutes left in regulation. But Jackson Janiuk, the reigning state 4A Player Of The Year, finally connected on his first field goal of the night, then scored the next four Seaside points at the foul line to pull the Gulls within 57-55 with 2:34 left. After a missed Taylor three, Chase Janiuk drilled a three-pointer to give the Gulls a 58-57 lead. After Jackson stole the ball, Chase hit another free throw, then the Braves’ Renne was called for an offensive foul, leading to a Chase Janiuk layup set up by Jackson’s assist. It appeared the Janiuk brothers were to carry the Gulls on to the title, but Jackson picked up his fourth foul of the night, sending Taylor to the line for a pair of free throws to cut the Seagull lead to 61-59 with 53.7 seconds left. On the ensuing Seaside possession, Taylor punched the ball free and in the scramble for the loose ball, Jackson Janiuk dove headlong into backcourt to secure possession, while the Seagulls players frantically tried to call time-out. However, a phantom foul had been called on Janiuk, sending him to the bench and sending Taylor back to the line, where he calmly sank both free throws to tie the game with 38.8 seconds left in regulation. After a missed Chase Janiuk three it was on to overtime.

Banks struck first and dealt Seaside another blow as Hunter Thompson fouled out, sending Renne to the line for a pair of go-ahead free throws. But Janiuk tied the game on a fadeaway 10-footer in the lane and Westerholm gave the Gulls the lead with a three-pointer from the top of the key. After a missed Renne shot, Janiuk spotted Duncan Thompson wide open underneath for a layup and a 68-63 Gulls lead with 1:55 to go. But Banks came right back with a Renne three-point play. Then Thompson again was left free underneath the basket, but this time blew the easy layin. Taylor scored in the paint for Banks to tie the score with 45 seconds left.

Janiuk held the ball at midcourt unchallenged until the eight second mark then dribbled his way toward the top of the key. With both feet inside the ring, he stepped back with his right foot and aired a fadeaway jumper that banked in with 1.5 seconds on the clock. As time expired, Banks attempted to call time out. The three officials got together and ruled the shot (correctly) to be a two-point basket and (very questionably) put a full second back on the scoreboard clock as a livid Seaside head coach Bill Westerholm had to be restrained by multiple players on the sideline, including his sophomore son who repeatedly admonished him to be quiet and sit down. The Braves’ Jake Evans, their football starting quarterback, threw a long pass from backcourt that was deflected toward Hutchins, whose desperation shot attempt came after the buzzer as the Gulls and their large contingent of fans celebrated their most nailbiting win in recent memory.

Renne led all scorers with 23 points, 18 coming after halftime, and pulled down 10 rebounds. Taylor scored all 13 of his points after halftime. Hutchins connected on 4-of-8 from downtown for his 12 points and Evans added 10 points and six boards. Blake Gobel, Banks’ 6-7 sophomore post, scored just seven points and none after the third quarter, but hauled in 11 rebounds.

Chase Janiuk led the way for Seaside, hitting four of his last five shots from the field and six of his last eight to finish with 18 points, 14 in the second half. Jackson Janiuk went 10-for-10 at the foul line to finish with 12 points and dished out seven assists. He was just 1-for-8 from the field and 0-for-4 from three. Westerholm added a dozen and led a balanced rebounding effort with seven boards. Hunter Thompson scored 11 points before fouling out.

The Gulls outshot the Braves 44-percent (24-55) to 38-percent (21-56). Banks did connect on 9-of-25 from three-point land (36%) while holding Seaside to 6-for-18 shooting from downtown. Banks was 17-for-25 at the line, while Seaside hit 16-of-24 from the stripe.

Banks finishes the regular season 14-6 with five of their losses coming in Cowapa League play. The Gulls improved to 19-1 and enter the postseason atop the OSAA 4A power rankings with Tuesday’s opponent Valley Catholic ranked second. Both teams will likely advance to the round of 16 following Tuesday’s tiebreaker. Banks must win Tuesday and again in the play-in round Friday to move on to the tournament for the first time since 2011.