Lynden Harry named back-to-back Tri-Valley Conference Player of the Year
Many conclusions can be taken away from Lynden Harry's nightly contributions to the Madras girls basketball team.
The obvious that stands out are her statistics — 16.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game — all of which led the White Buffalos this season.
Stats aside, one of Harry's greatest strengths is her consistency, not only leading the team game in and game out, but also season to season. She took little time to make an impact as a freshman, and last year, was named co-Tri-Valley Conference Player of the Year, along with Gladstone's Grace Campbell. This season, as a junior, she received the award once again, but this time, didn't have to share it with anyone.
"She definitely deserved the MVP (award) these past couple years," said Madras head coach Zach Lillebo. "She's a quiet leader on the floor, a leader by example."
The fact that Harry won the award in consecutive seasons, despite the Buffs finishing tied for second in the TVC standings, goes to show the amount of respect opposing coaches have for her. While the awards are nice accolades to receive, however, she's focused on helping the Buffs fulfill their goal of returning to the 4A state playoffs. They made it to the quarterfinals in 2016, but fell short this year after losing a play-in game at Cottage Grove Feb. 25.
"Knowing Lynden, she's more about the team goals and she wants to make it back to that final eight," Lillebo said.
The same can be said for the rest of the Buffs' team, which also saw freshman Jiana Smith-Francis named to the TVC's second team and Kaliyah Iverson earn a conference honorable mention.
Smith-Francis didn't play like a freshman when she was the leading scorer in each of the Buffs' first two games of the season — both wins. She learned she would be a starter on the day of her first high school game, and although she admitted to be nervous upon finding out, it didn't carry over to the game, or the rest of the season.
Smith-Francis averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and gave the Buffs another dependable scoring option throughout the season.
Madras coaches knew she could become a valuable high school basketball player, but wasn't sure how long she would take to adjust to the speed of high school varsity ball. If there was an adjustment period, it certainly didn't take long.
"She adjusted very well to the speed of the game," Lillebo said. "Going from eighth grade to varsity basketball is quite a jump."
Iverson's junior campaign started slow from a scoring standpoint, but that didn't stop her from contributing in a variety of other areas.
She rebounded, played the role of distributor when her shot wasn't falling, and made a nightly impact on defense, whether she was forcing steals from the Buffs' full-court trap or guarding the one of the opposing perimeter players.
As the Buffs' season ticked down to its final few games, Iverson rediscovered her shooting touch. She scored a season-high 19 points against Crook County in the team's final regular season game, and led Madras with 16 points against Cottage Grove.
"With Kaliyah, it was a much more well-rounded game," Lillebo said. "Her rebounding was up; she's been a solid defender each year ... She found her stride toward the end offensively and she was getting solid looks. It was more of the little things with her."
All three of the Lady Buffs' all-league players, as well as the rest of the team, will be back next year for another chance at returning to the state tournament. After this season ended somewhat abruptly, players and coaches are excited to return for summer ball and get back to work.
"The future is bright for Madras girls basketball," Lillebo said. "They're going to be fighting tooth and nail next year."
Follow him on Twitter @WillCDenner