Energized Madras girls top Estacada 59-16
From the opening tip, the Madras girls basketball team was ready to run.A certain buzz overcame the Buffalo Dome Friday evening when Madras played host to Estacada. Part of that energy built up before tipoff, when Madras celebrated its four seniors — Kaliyah Iverson, Lynden Harry, Alesha Freeman and Ellise David — playing their last home regular season game.
But once the pregame festivities had finished, and the game began, the Lady Buffs' energy fed the crowd and vice versa.
Madras led 9-3 through the first two minutes, and pushed the lead to 15-3 over the next minute. Jiana Smith-Francis grabbed a steal and cruised to the hoop, then Lynden Harry stole another ball and passed ahead to Jayden Davis, who scored an uncontested layup.
Following another Davis layup at the 3:37 mark, which pushed the Madras lead to 19-5, the Buffs closed the quarter strong. Davis hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 remaining, and 30 seconds later, Jalaney Suppah swished another long-range shot. Madras owned a 25-5 lead after the first quarter.
By the game's end, Madras held Estacada under 20 points in a 59-16 victory, which marked the fewest points the Lady Buffs had allowed in a game this season, and was also Estacada's lowest scoring output of the season.
"We had a goal to keep them under 20 (last time we played), and this time we actually kept to that goal," Iverson said. "I think our intensity stayed equal the whole, entire game."
The Buffs' scoring pace slowed down from then on, in part because they backed off their full-court press. But their defensive presence remained, as Estacada didn't score in the second quarter, and only managed 11 points in final two quarters.
"I think we were very excited for senior night," Freeman said. "The energy was there from the whole day. We were just excited to play, and (it was) just another game."
Harry led Madras with 14 points, and Iverson also reached double figures. Chloe Porter led Estacada with six points.
Madras comes back from early deficit Feb. 6 against second-place Molalla
Molalla got the better of Madras in the early going Tuesday, but even when it faced a double-digit deficit, Madras wasn't the least bit worried.
The Lady Buffs had been in a similar situation earlier this season, when they dug themselves a hole in the first half at Molalla on Jan. 16., only to come back and win.
The rematch was much of the same, as Molalla jumped out to a 15-11 lead after one quarter, and led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter. But the Lady Buffs closed the period on a 14-3 run, and used a 25-point third quarter to pull away from the Indians. With a 71-59 win, Madras remained undefeated in the Tri-Valley Conference, while Molalla was dealt its second loss in TVC play.
Early in the second quarter, Molalla scored nine straight points. Sierra Cox grabbed a steal and layup, Alicia Schultz hit a jumper, then Mattie Myers connected on a 3-pointer.
Following a Lynden Harry 3-pointer, assisted by Jiana Smith-Francis, Schultz hit two more deep balls, giving Molalla its largest lead, 28-14, and prompting Madras head coach Zach Lillebo to call timeout with 4 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the half.
"We played, I thought, very good defense in the first half," Molalla head coach Phil Wiesner said. "We did get a few run outs because of that, and it created some offense for us. Even when we didn't get the run outs, in the halfcourt, I thought we were patient, looked for good stuff and played pretty confident."
The Madras timeout was a turning point, however, because as soon as play resumed, the Buffs began cooking on offense.
Jalaney Suppah opened the scoring run with a 3-pointer on the Buffs' next possession, and Jackie Zamora followed with a layup, thanks to a deep pass from Harry over the Molalla defense. Then, Harry hit another 3-pointer, and Kaliyah Iverson converted a three-point play with a layup and made free throw.
Harry put two more points on the board from the foul line with eight seconds left in the half. Harry led all scorers with 34 points, and Schultz had 24 points for Molalla.
"When we were at Molalla we ended up being down 10-2, and then came back in the end of the first quarter, so it was kind of the same thing," Harry said. "They like to drive and kick, they like to give it to Schultz — I don't blame them, because she's a good ballplayer.
"We have to be mentally tough at this point in the season, in order to beat the better teams and play through all the tough situations we have," Harry added.
Madras pulled ahead for good midway through the third quarter, when Harry scored near the rim, giving the Buffs a 44-42 lead at the 3:02 mark. They capped off another strong end to the quarter, extending their lead to 54-45 entering the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Molalla almost certainly denied itself the chance to repeat as TVC champions. However, the Indians' only losses in league have come against Madras, and they appear to be in solid shape for the postseason, provided they close the regular season strong, Wiesner said.
"We've got to take care of business," he said. "We're in second now, and we hope to keep it."
The Buffs haven't yet clinched the TVC title officially, however, they're raising the bar above a title; they want to sweep the league and complete a perfect, 10-0 record.
"Our girls don't want to clinch it; our girls want to go 10-0, and that's the mindset they've had since day one," Lillebo said.
Follow him on Twitter @MadrasSports, @WillCDenner