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Don't let final score fool you: Braves are winners

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In spite of an undeniable meltdown in last week's girls state basketball final, the Banks girls have nothing to be ashamed of

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - The Banks girls basketball team walks off the court after losing last week's state basketball final to Sutherlin.Sports, as great as they are, can be very cruel.

Moments often define, and in many cases skew, the reality of a player, a game or — in some cases — a team. When people think of Bill Buckner, they don't think of a 22-year MLB veteran, an all-star or NL batting champion. They think of a ground ball going between his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

When people think of the Buffalo Bills, they don't think of a team that made it to four straight Super Bowls, but rather a team that lost them all. And when people think of the "Great White Shark," Greg Norman, they don't remember his 91 professional wins and two major championships, but moreso his failures — including the 1996 Masters in which he turned a six-shot lead into a five-shot deficit over the tournament's final 18 holes.

The Banks girls basketball team lost a heartbreaker to Sutherlin last Saturday night in the OSAA 4A State Basketball Championships at Forest Grove High School, and — at face value — whitewashed the greatest girls basketball season in Banks High School history.

But when you dig deeper, get beyond the negativity of those final 10 minutes in which they surrendered an 18-point lead, and pull back for a wider look at the season as a whole, this Braves team won't be defined by those final 10 minutes, but rather the 24 and two-thirds of a game that came before them.

Why? Because I won't let them.

I followed this team throughout the season and always left games impressed. These Braves girls worked together to do the little things necessary to win.

They did it with defense, rebounding, hustle and the type of teamwork infrequently found in today's world of "get mine" athletics. They understood that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that while not the most talented, they may have been the most imposing due to their willingness to sacrifice for one another.

These are strong girls, who from day one of the 2016-17 season wanted to win. And it's possible it was that intense desire that paralyzed them when all they had worked for was within arm's reach. Sorry, but I'm not going to hold that against them.

As a result of last Saturday's heartbreaker, and in the wake of the post-game tears that came with it, when I think of this team, I'll think of what they accomplished and how they did it instead of what they didn't and how it all happened.

Sorry Buckner, the Bills, and the Great White Shark — these girls aren't joining your club. They deserve better, and they earned that admiration.