COWAPA LEAGUE BASKETBALL: Braves Boys Suffer First Loss Of Season

In 4A basketball, the Cowapa League still reigns supreme.

The Cowapa is home of two of the last three state basketball champions and with a representative in the championship game the last three years and half of last season’s quarterfinal field hailed from the league. One thing the Cowapa League no longer has is an unbeaten team.

The Banks Braves became the last 4A team to lose a game as the Valley Catholic Valiants outscored the Braves 19-3 in the final period to run away with a 55-42 win Tuesday night in Beaverton.

The Valiants avenged a pair of one-sided losses to the Braves, who had won 20 consecutive games by double-digit margins this season and 22 in a row dating back to last season’s fourth-place finish at the 4A state tournament in Forest Grove.

Last year, Banks was upset in the quarterfinal round, while Valley Catholic and Seaside reached the championship game with the Gulls prevailing over the Valiants. This season, all three teams are ranked in the state’s top-ten with Banks and Seaside topping the list and Valley fourth in the state rankings.

The Valiants raced out to an 8-0 lead Tuesday and held a 29-17 advantage late in the second period. Banks would close the first half with five straight points before their dynamic duo of 6-6 senior Dalton Renne and 6-7 junior Blake Gobel took over in the third period. Renne and Gobel combined for all 17 of the Braves points and took all but one shot for Banks in the quarter as the Braves raced ahead 39-36 before an Andrew Plambeck bucket brought the Valiants to within one entering the final period.

But just as quickly as Renne and Gobel lit the fire, the Valiants extinguished it, holding the pair scoreless over the final eight minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers by Peter Boileau and Davis Johnson put Valley Catholic back in front to stay as the Braves, who opened the game by missing 11 consecutive shots, closed it by missing 11 of their last 12.

Renne finished with game highs of 18 points and ten rebounds, 11 coming in the third quarter flurry. Gobel had eight points and six boards.

Boileau led a balanced Valley Catholic effort with 11 points, connecting on 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and 4 of 5 from the field overall. Jack Grasberger added ten. Plambeck scored seven of his nine points in the second half and finished with four steals. Ben Robbins had eight points. Jack Tetzloff played a strong game at point guard, finishing with seven points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds.

The Valiants outshot the Braves, hitting 44-percent from the field (22-50) and 7-for-13 from three-point range. Valley Catholic’s 1-3-1 zone defense flustered the visitors, who connected on just 2-of-13 from three and 35-percent overall (17-49).

Both teams have tough road games on Friday with Banks heading to Scappoose and Valley Catholic at Seaside. The Braves (6-1, 20-1 overall) still hold a one-game lead over Valley Catholic (5-2, 16-5) and Seaside (5-2, 16-4) in the Cowapa standings with three games to play. Banks, which finished third in the Cowapa behind co-champions Valley Catholic and Seaside last year, has never won a league title in boys basketball.

Earlier in the night in the girls game, Jessi Wren scored with 14 seconds left to break a 55-55 tie as the Braves all but locked up a Cowapa championship with a 57-55 win in a physical, intense battle. Valley Catholic’s Noelle Mannen went to the line with 4.5 seconds to play with a chance to tie the game, but missed the first free throw before missing the second intentionally. Banks’ Gracie Nelson secured her eighth rebound of the game and the Braves called time out before running out the clock. Nelson led Banks with 15 points with Wren adding 11 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Aspen Slifka finished with 10 points and six steals to go with four assists. Callie Kawaguchi led all scorers with 16 and had five steals.

The Braves trailed 37-28 early in the third quarter after Valley Catholic erupted for five threes in a 23-point second period. But Banks had regained the lead before the end of the quarter and the teams were separated by no more than four points throughout the final period. Valley Catholic was just 2-for-13 from the field in the final quarter as Banks outscored the Valiants 13-7.