By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.—For the first half of Tuesday’s preseason match-up between North Marion and the Banks Girls Basketball teams in the Lady Braves dominant 50-31 win, it looked as if it could come down to the fourth quarter as it was the last time the two teams met on December 14 in Grants Pass.
The first quarter was an offensive showcase with Banks leading 21-14 with Aspen Slifka scoring 10 of her 18 points and Katie Ensign eight of her 10 in the quarter.
The game then became a defensive slug fest with six total points scored in the second with the Huskies cutting it to a 23-18 deficit by the halftime break as the grit of North Marion’s defense and the length of the Braves defenders kept each other off the scoreboard.
Mar Verastegui, Ensign and Dani Christenson all scored to start the second half to get the Huskies to within two at 26-22. But the Braves threw out a wild card offensively that the North Marion defense weren’t expecting as Gracie Nelson took over with eight third quarter points to help spark the Braves to a 13-7 third quarter advantage by quarter’s end.
“We ran a surprise offense there that they haven’t seen before that we had in our back pocket and the girls were really kicked it in gear,” said Nelson as Banks led 36-25 by quarters end. “I think we all really wanted to win tonight and we knew we were going to be playing a good competitor, so we did what we needed to do.”
Nelson finished with 12 points in the win.
The Huskies were playing without Raymee Boese Tuesday and Paige Martin was limited in the first half that put North Marion without two of their tallest girls at full strength. Their offense had their opportunities to keep up with the Lady Braves, but couldn’t finish their close-range shots as Verastegui scored four of the Huskies six fourth quarter points Tuesday night to close out the game. Verastegui finished with six points for North Marion.
“It was hard for us to get around the offense and from the fourth quarter, we just stopped playing like ourselves,” said Ensign with North Marion looking to rebound Friday versus Seaside. “You could shut down or you could take it and play better, so we’re going to do what we can to make us play stronger against Seaside on Friday.”
It’ll be the Huskies preseason finale before the start of Tri-Valley Conference play at Molalla next Wednesday. Banks will be at Newport Friday before they open Cowapa League play Tuesday at Tillamook.