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The Gladiators lead most of the way and vow to come back strong in the Feb. 21 rematch.

PMG PHOTO: ANDREW DIECKHOFF - Gladstone freshman Ryme Jaekel (bottom) battles for possession of the ball during her team's 52-50 loss to Madras at Madras High School on Wednesday, Feb. 2.If their first matchup was any indication, the Madras and Gladstone girls basketball teams are going to be duking it out for the Tri-Valley Conference crown right until the final buzzer.

That was the case on Wednesday, Feb. 2, when the White Buffalos outlasted the Gladiators 52-50 in the Buffalo Dome at Madras High School.

"It was awesome," said Gladstone junior guard Hanne Hopkins, who finished with 13 points in the loss. "I love that playoff atmosphere. It's really fun to play in. I'm a competitor so that was really fun."

"I thought both teams played really hard," said Gladstone head coach Glenn Hopkins (also Hanne Hopkins' father). "We knew it was going to be tough to come here. It's always tough to come here."

The loss — the team's first in conference play, snapped Gladstone's six-game winning streak and dropped their TVC record to 4-1 and their overall record to 13-2. Madras, meanwhile, won for the seventh straight time and improved to 5-0 in conference play and 10-7 overall.

Sophomore point guard Rylan Davis paced Madras with 14 points, including three in the final minute that provided a critical cushion for the Buffs.

On the other side, Gladstone freshman guard Ryme Jaekel led all scorers with 16 points, but her game-tying shot attempt bounced out as time expired. Senior wing Alyx DeVeny also added 13 points for the Gladiators.

PMG PHOTO: ANDREW DIECKHOFF - Gladstone junior Hanne Hopkins drives to the basket during her team's 52-50 loss to Madras at Madras High School on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

The final sequence came after Madras used a 10-2 run to storm back from seven points down in the fourth quarter, with sophomore point guard Rylan Davis' driving layin in the final minute providing the game-winning points for the White Buffalos.

"We knew it was going to come down to the last possession, which it did," Glenn Hopkins said. "Unfortunately, the ball didn't go in for us."

Prior to Madras' late push, Gladstone appeared to have the game in hand for most of the evening. The Gladiators led at the ends of the first, second and third quarters, but the Buffs won the all-important fourth quarter 15-8.

In doing so, Madras took sole possession of first place in the Tri-Valley Conference — for now.

PMG PHOTO: ANDREW DIECKHOFF - Gladstone junior Hanne Hopkins (center) gets fouled on a drive during her team's 52-50 loss to Madras at Madras High School on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

It is worth noting that if this game had been played last week, the result might have been very different. After all, this was the first home contest for Madras since the school lifted its restrictions on spectators in the Buffalo Dome. The resulting effect was a lively home crowd that helped cheer Madras over the top in a pivotal matchup of the Tri-Valley's two best squads.

As for what comes next, Hanne Hopkins already has some ideas.

"I've got a really good feeling," she said. "This game was tough, but we know we're going to come back, we're going to work hard, and hopefully, go as far as we can."

Glenn Hopkins was a bit more direct with his goals for the remainder of the season.

"Not to lose again," he said. "That's our goal."

A simple enough goal on its face, but one that will be difficult in a conference with two other very strong teams in Madras and Corbett.

The Gladiators and White Buffalos will play at Gladstone on Monday, Feb. 21. If both schools continue playing at the high level they have been, that game could end up deciding who wins the conference this year.

"Oh, It's going to be good," said Hanne Hopkins of the rematch. "I'm excited for it. Looking forward to it."

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