Eugene native, Ducks basketball player Lexi Bando makes father and former coach proud
EUGENE, Ore. – The Oregon Women’s Basketball team made it to the Elite Eight for the first time ever. One of the star players, Lexi Bando, grew up in Eugene.
Bando’s father and high school coach watched the game Monday and cheered from home.
Before the game, they said they were nervous and excited, but most of all proud.
“It just seems like it was a couple weeks ago, and I tell that to my daughter. She says, ‘Dad, that was so long ago,’ but as a parent, it just seems like yesterday,” said David Bando, Lexi Bando’s father.
Back in 2013, Willamette High School beat Springfield for the state championship.
“Biggest game of our lives here and we just went out and played our hardest,” Lexi Bando said after the high school win.
Little did she know in a few years she’d be playing in the Elite Eight on one of the best women’s basketball teams in the country.
“It's hard to believe. It's something that I think all parents dream of their child playing at this level,” David Bando said.
“I've had a lot of players that have gone on to colleges and played, but none that's enjoyed the success that she has up to this point,” said Paul Brothers, Lexi Bando’s high school coach.
Brothers started coaching her in third grade; then through high school.
He said she’s always been a star.
“We would do our individual workouts and not just once but several times she would hit 25 threes in a row and so, doesn't surprise me when a three goes in for her,” Brothers said.
He said he lets her be and tries not to give much coaching advice these days.
Her dad, on the other hand, said he can’t help it.
“I usually text her before her game, a couple hours before the game, I kind of give her her little pep up talk and I've done that her whole career,” David Bando said.
Both he and Brothers say it’s been fun to watch her all these years.
“Our family, friends, coaches, everyone's just ecstatic about it so we're very proud,” David Bando said.
He still keeps a lucky reminder from that first big win.
“Game days I wear the state championship game [ring] when they upset Springfield for the state championship,” he said.
Looking back and looking ahead, they say they couldn’t be more excited for Lexi Bando.
Long before she was born, Brothers actually coached David Bando. They’ve all been family friends for a while and they say they’re glad to share in the excitement together.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season came to an end for Lexi Bando Monday night. The Ducks lost to UConn 90-52.