The Estacada boys basketball team falls behind Madras, never recovers.

by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Estacadas Alec Barstad works to get inside against Madras during last weeks home loss. The Estacada boys’ basketball team thought it went into February 4’s matchup against Madras with a good understanding of what White Buffalo guard Jered Pichette was capable of. It was no secret that the Rangers would have to contain Pichette to top Madras. What Estacada failed to foresee was that Pichette was so in-the-zone that stopping him was an impossibility.

Pichette poured in 30 points to lift the White Buffaloes past Estacada, 71-63.

“He shot the ball well, did everything well,” Estacada coach Kevin Kirchhofer said. “They are a good team and we knew it was going to be tough.”

Pichette had the hot hand from his first touch. He needed no time to warm up and was immediately deadly from the outside as he quickly splashed a trio of 3-pointers through the nylon in the first quarter. He recorded 13 points in the opening period and helped Madras scamper out to a 21-9 lead.

For the rest of the game, the two schools were locked in a tug-of-war in which neither could gain more than a few steps. The Rangers would toss in a few straight buckets to cut the deficit down to six or seven points then Madras would make a couple shots to extend the lead back out to double digits.

The White Buffaloes had numerous opportunities to bust the game open. They led by at least 10 points at eight different spots in the game, but the Rangers never let them pull away. Madras’ best chance to put the game out of reach came in the middle of the third period when it went on a 10-3 run to go up by 15 points.

The Rangers looked dejected, but they kept battling and scored 11 of the quarter’s final 13 points to make it a 49-43 game going into the fourth quarter. Everything had seemingly gone Madras’ way in the first three quarters, so the Rangers were thrilled to be in the game with eight minutes to play.

“One of the battles we’ve had this year is that this group can be easily defeated,” Kirchhofer said. “It was really important that they kept fighting, and I think they saw that could win.”

However, there was still Pichette to contend with. In the fourth, Pichette scored at the rim with circus finger-rolls, from beyond the arc and at the free-throw line. He fought for 12 points in the period to keep Estacada at a safe distance.

Pichette did have some help from teammate Devon Wolfe in the second half. Wolfe, who finished with 25 points, scored 12 of the White Buffaloes’ 16 third-quarter points and added 10 more in the fourth. He and Pichette combined to score all of Madras’ 22 fourth-quarter points, 36 of the team’s 38 second-half points and 55 of the White Buffaloes’ 71 total points.

All the focus was on what Pichette and Wolfe did, so the performance of Estacada’s Willie Blankenship didn’t get the recognition from spectators that it deserved. Blankenship led the Rangers with 21 points, and he made all of them count. He sparked two second-half runs with 3-pointers and stopped multiple Madras runs with clutch jump shots.

Estacada’s Chris Smith also helped to keep the Rangers in it with one of his best games of the season. He was Estacada’s energy source with his vocal encouragement and hustle on loose balls. Smith had 13 points.

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