Buffs ponder what might have been

Season ends without a postseason berth


Disappointed.

That’s the first thing that Jered Pichette thinks of when the topic of Madras basketball comes up. And now that the White Buffalos’ season has ended, he wants to make sure he doesn’t feel the same this time next year.

“The season was an up-and-down season, all in our confidence level,” Pichette, a junior said. “We played at the other team’s level; we didn’t play at our own level. We probably would have had more success during the season if we would have had confidence."

“Personally, I wish we could have gone farther because I know we could have,” Pichette said. “We were able to compete with everyone, we just didn’t perform. We had the plan and we talked the talk, but we just didn’t walk it.”

The Buffs' season came to an end last week with a final home win, 72-56 over Estacada. Madras finished the season 10-14 overall and 3-7 in Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference play and missed out on a trip to state, breaking a three-year string.

It was definitely not the conclusion Pichette or coach Allen Hair had expected back in November when practices first started.

“It was a little disappointing,” Hair said. “We were young; Jered and Devon (Wolfe) were the two guys that returned from last year and we were inexperienced. And I think January is kind of, for high school kids, the month where you hit the doldrums. And the doldrums hit us hard.”

The White Buffalos, who had a solid eye on the state playoffs when the season started, got off to a good enough start, jumping out to a 7-4 mark. But Madras would win just once in the year’s first month and was never able to regain its form.

After beating Cottage Grove on Jan. 10, Madras went on a seven-game losing streak that included a deflating 68-54 home loss to La Pine.

From there, it seemed, things just got worse. A 26-point conference-opening loss to North Marion was bad, but even worse was an ankle injury to post Brent Sullivan, which limited his play the rest of the season.

“It just kind of steamrolled from there,” Hair said.

But despite the injuries, Bryce Rehwinkel also went down during the season, the Buffs remained competitive. Madras hung tough with La Salle Prep and Gladstone, both state-ranked teams, and ended up winning three of its final six games.

“It was just one of those things where we didn’t do enough to get the job done,” Hair said. “I thought we were going to be better than where we finished. Overall, are we a state championship type of team, probably not, I think we are a year away from that."

“Could we have gotten to (state) this year? I think we had the pieces,” Hair said. “But we had to deal with a lot. I don’t think I had two (league) games where we had the same starting lineup.”

That can take a toll on a team, especially a young one. But it is that youth that Hair expects to turn things around for next season.

Madras will lose just three kids off the roster to graduation and more importantly, its top two scorers (Pichette and Wolfe) are returning.

Hair said the pieces are in place and not a lot needs to change, other than the size of the team’s players.

“The big thing is we have to hit the weight room,” Hair said. “We have to get stronger. That’s been something that has been a focus of mine for a long time. That’s a reason we haven’t (done better); other teams are just stronger than us.”

Hair said with the current group of playmakers, the Buffs could have five guys score in double figures every night. That kind of scoring, combined with a solid bench and some tough defense, would make Madras hard to beat.

“We have the makings of a state championship team but a lot of that will be determined between now and November,” Hair said. “How much are they going to play during the summer? How much are they going to buy into hitting the weight room and getting stronger, it’s a commitment thing right now.

“Are they going to be willing to do the kind of things that are necessary to make that commitment in order to be a state championship team. You look at most state championship teams, they aren’t made in November to March, they are made in (the offseason)," he said.

One thing that will help is that Hair will schedule summer games over the course of just three weeks, hoping to give his guys some more freedom to be kids during the summer months. But after that, it’s back to work.

“I think next year looks pretty good,” Pichette said. “Hopefully we’ll make it to state.”




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