Expectations set for Lady Buffalos
The Madras Lady Buffalos basketball program is under its second year with head coach Jerin Say at the helm. Last season, Madras finished the season with a 15-9 overall record.
They also finished second in the Tri-Valley Conference with a 7-3 league record. The Lady Buffs were ranked No. 11 heading into the postseason and lost in the first round to Philomath (22-3).
"I think this year we are going to be more structured, more disciplined," Say said. "We had a great summer, so we are just going to try and build off that. Expectations have been solidified and no BS is going to be taken this year. The girls are more bought-in this year."
"We have a core unit returning from last year," he said. "They are a year older and they know what our system is all about, both for defense and offense. I expect to hit the ground running, compete for a league title and get back to the playoffs, hopefully making more noise than we did last year."
The Lady Buffs will lean on junior Jayden Davis and senior Jiana Smith-Francis this year for leadership and offense. David won first-team honors in the Tri-Valley Conference as a sophomore last season, averaging 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 steals a game. Smith-Francis earned second-team honors averaging 9.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals.
"Jiana and Jayden have been in the varsity program going on three years now," said Say. "They are both very strong players both offensively and defensively. They both have super high basketball IQ, especially for high school. We are going to lean on them for leadership roles in terms of helping other girls out, understanding if something goes wrong or right, they will let them know in a positive way."
The Lady Buffs had several key players — Jackie Zamora-Heath, Monika Stacona and Vanessa Culps — graduate in 2019 and will look to some younger players to fill those roles.
"DaRia White was a swing player last year that ended up starting for us at the end of the year," said Say. "She is a junior this year, and for our team to be really successful this year, she will have to pick up a big role. There is a freshman player, Illiana Hance, who really impressed me at tryouts. She is super athletic, really long; she just needs to grow as a basketball player and understand what it is like at the high school level rather than middle school."
With experienced players like Davis and Smith-Francis, combined with the new roles of White and Hance, watch for the Lady Buffs to have another good season this year.
"I feel like this year, if we come together, we will be good and go farther," Davis said. "I feel like we are way more comfortable with coach Say this year than we were last year. We are able to trust him more to lead us to a longer year. My goal is just to get farther than we did last year and make more memories."
Coach Say and Davis both agree coming together and becoming a team will play a big part in the success the team can anticipate this year.
"We need to blend the new players with the returning varsity players," Say said. "Having that summer to really blend the girls together was helpful in terms of us transitioning into this year. I think the girls know where they fit in as far as roles."
The Lady Buffs travel to Hidden Valley to play the Mustangs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. They host a tournament Dec. 6-7, with the first game starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, against Toledo.
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