The Madras White Buffalos girls basketball program returned recently from a camp at Gonzaga University, in Spokane, Washington, held July 5-7. This was the first year going to the Gonzaga basketball camp and the program sent 10 players.
"I think this was a good experience," head coach Jerin Say said. "It was a little different than the Western Oregon camp that we went to in the previous year. The girls were able to play a lot of different teams from around the Northwest and Canada. We didn't play one Oregon team, which was a positive I thought. Playing different competition, with different styles of play — it was really good overall."
Over the past season, the Lady Buffs had a 15-9 overall record, 7-3 in the Tri-Valley Conference. Over the summer, they are building a new team through hard work and dedication. Madras lost a few seniors after the season, but are looking to improve their already skilled roster.
"We pretty much lost half our team from last season, so now we are working on blending the returning varsity players with a number of girls that could potentially make the team next year," said Say. "The chemistry is looking good, the girls are getting along, so I feel good about the direction we are headed, especially going into the second year with me as the coach. We have some groundwork laid and I think it is going to go well."
The girls basketball program was also able to send a group of seven freshmen girls to a camp at Western Oregon University June 24-27. The varsity girls participated in the WOU basketball camp in 2018, so the program already had experience with the camp.
"They had a pretty short bench, but from what coach Butch (David) told me, those girls went to every session, tried hard, participated to the fullest," said Say. "Half of the girls that went are still really learning the game of basketball and the other half knows the game really well. So they are working on a little bit of meshing themselves. It sounded like all the girls were able to grow in some way."
Even though the camps are over, the programs are still active and hungry to learn. Coach Say and several other coaches, with help from the community, were able to not only secure gym space, but are helping out and coaching girls in fifth through eighth grades, as well as the high schoolers.
"We are doing youth and high school workouts," Say said. "The coaches will help with individual tips and on Wednesday nights, helping the fifth through eighth graders with skill building, as well."
Coaches from the Central Oregon Basketball Organization league in Jefferson County are helping the high school program with the youth girls this summer along with other volunteers. The practices are held at both Jefferson County Middle School and Madras High School.
"This will have a lot of community involvement as far as the youth girls go," Say said. "If we really want to build and sustain our program, we thought to start at the fifth grade level, especially working with them on our core covenant values, expectations, holding them accountable, respect."
"All those kind of things, as well as how to conduct yourself and be a good teammate," he said. "By the time they get to high school, the groundwork is already laid and there is no fall off or relearning; it is just all about basketball at that point. We can keep things rolling and really hold them accountable on the things they have learned the previous four years or so."
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