BANKS — The equation for Banks center Blake Gobel was pretty simple Thursday night: He had carried his team to within an arm’s reach of the mountaintop, so he wanted to finish the climb.
And he wanted to plant the flag.
So the 6-foot-7 senior completed “the best basketball game of my life” with a traditional three-point play with 37.9 seconds left in overtime, then made the steal that saved the second-ranked Braves’ 54-53 victory over No. 1 Seaside.
The dramatic win in the regular-season finale offsets Seaside’s win over the Braves back on Jan. 29 and gives the two teams the Cowapa League co-championship.
But they’ll face each other at least one more time. They square off Saturday at 5 p.m. at Tillamook High School to determine the top seed for the league tournament.
The loser of the game has to play the winner of Astoria’s Saturday game at Valley Catholic. And the loser of Astoria-VC gets a crack at the winner between the Braves and Seagulls.
None of that was on anybody’s mind as the clock whisked inside a minute in the overtime period. There was a lot of drama going on.
Banks was in a big predicament. They had squandered an early 12-point lead over the Nascar-swift Seagulls, barely held the visitors off in the last moments of regulation, then surrendered a pair of free throws to trail 53-51.
Banks coach Marcus Roche called a time out with 1:16 left and spread his players across the home half of the floor. Gobel occupied the middle and maneuvered against Seagulls junior Ryan Hague waiting for an opening — and the ball.
“I knew I had to do something,” Gobel said later. “I knew it had to be me.”
It was. The Braves got an entry pass into him eight feet from the basket. Hague closed in on him.
“I was pretty open,” Gobel said, ”so I knew if I gave him a little pump-fake he’d fly at me. So I went around him a little, got the body and nailed it.”
It was more of a short, driving bank-hook from about three feet out. Hague bumped him, he got the call and was perfect with the free throw.
Now the Braves had to figure out who was going to take Seaside’s last shot. All of the Seagulls on the floor can shoot a basketball — it’s been the way since about 1923 — but the whole house knew the Gulls would go to their marvelous senior guard, Chase Januik.
The Gulls flipped the ball around the perimeter, then Januik got the ball with about six seconds left, step-faked and charged into the key.
Gobel was waiting. He stretched a long arm out just as Januik was bringing the ball up and knocked it away. Then he grabbed it and threw it in the air downcourt and the Braves had the win.
“Januik’s a great player,” Gobel said. “We knew what he was going to do. We knew he was going to go the free throw line to win the game, so I just stepped up and was lucky enough to get the ball.”
The defensive play finished a night for Gobel that included the stat line of a lifetime: 21 points, 12 rebounds, pair of assists, two steals and four blocked shots.
“That guy made a few key plays down the stretch,” beamed Roche. “That and-one was huge. That was the best Blake has played basketball since he’s been here. He was awesome.
“We tried to do a few more sets to get him a little more involved, but it was just a mentality. He flipped on the switch — you could see it tonight.
“He’s got the ability to shoot the three or play the true post.”
A night like Gobel had capitalized on one of Seaside's few vulnerabilities. As athletic as they are, the Gulls are pretty small: They essentially start four guards and post Duncan Thompson — who is only six feet tall.
Seaside makes its living on grand larceny: The Seagulls have quick hands and are lethal man-to-man defenders. That was what brought them back from the 20-8 first-quarter deficit.
Gobel got the Braves that lead with 10 first-quarter points — two on legitimate three-pointers out of offensive sets.
The Braves were up 24-12 early in the second quarter when Seaside charged back into the game with a 14-2 run. Significantly, six different players scored during the explosion.
Banks stretched the lead out to as much as five a few times, the advantages never lasted more than about 30 seconds. The Braves went scoreless in the last 3:22 of regulation to waste a 51-46 edge. A wild series of scrambles by both teams yielded only the five points the Gulls needed to tie the game and get it into overtime.
Then it was time for Blake Gobel, and the big guy was ready.
Dakota Bunn added 13 points for the Braves. Januik led the Seagulls with 16; Hague added 12.