Buffs top Cheesemakers 95-86 on Feb. 24 to earn a first-round game March 3, at No. 1 seed Banks.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Kanim Smith (44) led all scorers with 38 points against Tillamook, putting together an efficient game in only 16 minutes, 46 seconds of play.
The system was a work in progress all season long.

When Madras head coach Evan Brown reintroduced "3-diculous" and the platoon-style, five men on, five men off substitution pattern to the White Buffalos' boys basketball program this season, it didn't immediately yield positive results.

Ideally, the fast tempo and frequent shift changes are supposed to break even the most well-conditioned teams. That wasn't the case during the Buffs' nonleague tilt, when they allowed 100 points or more on three occasions, and at times, looked exhausted themselves.

But on Saturday, the Buffs put all their pieces together — 10 of them, to be exact — and kept their season alive.

Madras wore out Tillamook in its home play-in round game, a 95-86 win. It reaped the benefits of its depth, which went 10 players deep and wore out the Cheesemakers in the fourth quarter.

"Tonight's game is what we've been trying to accomplish all year," Brown said. "That style of game, that type of game, that tempo of the game, that is what we had envisioned in November when practice started. It's taken us 24 games to get there, but that's the picture of what we envisioned."

Both teams started hot offensively with several lead changes, and Madras led 25-24 after the first quarter.

The Buffs then went on a 11-2 run early in the second quarter, ignited by a Donnie Bagley layup, and a Kanim Smith steal and slam dunk.

At the 5:13 mark, Smith grabbed his own miss and put back a layup, which gave Madras a 38-28 lead.

By halftime, Smith had 20 points, and racked up 38 at the final buzzer. Remarkably, Smith played only 16 minutes, 46 seconds, a byproduct of the Buffs' platoon substitutions.

No one from Madras played more than 19 minutes, while five Tillamook players totaled upwards of 23 minutes. In a fast-paced game, that contrast made all the difference.

"It's tough coming out, but it gives you more energy when the next rotation comes in," Smith said. "You just got to keep it consistent."

While Madras was running, Tillamook was matching it for a good portion of the game.

Ian Collett, who was coming off a 46-point performance against Scappoose a few days earlier, led the 'Mooks with 28 points. He, along with fellow guard Ramon Flores, who scored 18 points, frequently leaked out in transition and scored easy baskets.

For a while, it appeared that Tillamook had an answer for nearly every Madras score. Until the final period, at least.

Madras held a 65-62 edge entering the fourth, and soon after, scored seven points. Bagley hit another deep ball, followed by two made free throws from Smith, and a Chad Thurby layup to give Madras a 74-64 lead.

Tillamook had a couple parting shots, drawing to within six points after Anthany Taylor scored four straight points.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Tyler Lockey (35) led Madras with 14 rebounds (five offensive), on a night when second-chance points helped the Buffs get over the hump.
But the Buffs scored on their next possession, when Kahne Herkshan cleaned up an offensive rebound and scored two of his 13 points. Thurby then grabbed a steal and unselfishly set up Lockey for a layup with 4:18 remaining. Madras didn't allow Tillamook to draw any closer than seven points for the remainder of the game.

"We knew they were going to run with us, we knew they were going to be just as fast as us, but we also knew they only play a few players," Herkshan said. "That helped us, because they couldn't run as fast (of) a pace."

In addition to the Buffs' 11 3-pointers made, compared to just three from Tillamook, they pulled down 28 offensive rebounds, eight of which were credited to Smith and another five to Lockey.

The win secured Madras a first-round playoff game, but the road gets much tougher from here.

The Buffs found out shortly after Saturday's game that they will play at Banks (22-2), the No. 1 seed in the bracket. Some will probably be overlooking them, but after the Buffs found their formula against Tillamook, they could be a tough out in the playoffs.

"I'm just going to leave it all out there, like I did this game," said Smith, a senior. "Just keep going and chip away at the tournament.

Madras travels to play Banks on March 3. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Contact Will Denner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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