By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– With or without Cooper Gobel, Banks was going to be a tough out Monday night at Stayton.
In the first quarter for instance in the Eagles 57-39 victory over the Braves, Banks’ physicality and aggression caught Stayton off surprise. The Eagles led 14-13 after the opening eight minutes, but it did feel like it was going to be one of those down-to-the-wire games as Stayton adjusted to what they saw.
“They’re a physical team. I think we were shocked in the first quarter and the first half of the second quarter with how physical they were. Then towards the second quarter we stepped it up and just kept it going from there going into the third quarter and applied the pressure,” Jacob Axmaker said.
When the Eagles did find their footing during the second quarter, they stepped on it. Turning a one-point lead into a 11-point, 30-19 halftime lead.
There wasn’t any of the second half-lull as Stayton pushed their lead to 20 late into the third quarter leading 42-22 before the Braves cut it down to 17 by quarters end. The Eagles seemingly unaffected by Banks pressure as they continued to apply pressure of their own after their slow start.
“It was huge,” Gabe Wiggington said of the third quarter momentum. “Just the energy that we kept, they’re a second half team and we killed it. That’s what we can do every game and I believe we can go to State and be a great team if we keep that same momentum all year.”
That momentum, that footing and that energy they’ll need Thursday when they host North Marion. For the Huskies, they’re very similar to Banks in wanting to be that aggressor and be physical on the court.
But Monday’s game probably served, if anything, as a warm-up for that battle with the Huskies here in a few days with the mindset of being scrappy and physical with each other.
“We just have to go to practice scrappy, play hard and be more physical with each other every day. Just be great all around and be together. Work together as a team and we’ll come out on top like we want to,” Wigginton said.
“We just have to go into every game like they’re going to apply pressure because they’ll think we’re talented, but softer kids. That we don’t want to be hit,” adds Axmaker. “So (in) practice, taking more charges. Going against the pad. Basically, getting used to physical contact the whole time.”
Axmaker finished with a game-high 19 points. Wigginton (14) and Garrett Callisen (13) each were in double-figures for the Eagles. Their game with North Marion is scheduled for 7pm Thursday.
Charlie White led the Braves with 13 points and Ben Mayo had nine for Banks, who host Gladstone Friday at 7pm
Photos By Jeremy McDonald