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Madras Lady Buffalo basketball squad beats Cascade, Banks, loses to high ranked La Grande in tournament.

STEELE HAUGEN - Jayden Davis drives to the rim in this file photo.The Madras Lady Buffalos girls basketball team placed second at the Banks Winter Shootout tournament. Madras beat Cascade 58-46 and Banks 48-41, but lost to No. 3-ranked La Grande 57-48 in the championship game.

Cascade was led by two seniors and seven sophomores, but Madras' pressure was too much for the Cougars.

"They were a scrappy, aggressive team. We were just able to really create tempo in that game," head coach Jerin Say said. "We controlled the game from the beginning of the game with our intensity and aggressiveness. Our press worked really well against them, and we forced a lot of turnovers. We were up by 20 at one point but slowed the game down when we didn't need to score at the end. Going so hard the whole game and then trying to reel them back in the last few minutes, we made some unforced errors ourselves."

"Overall we played intense, aggressive, starting the tournament off with a bang, letting everyone know that we need to be taken serious here," he said. "It was a good game. Dominique Walker had over 20 points, which was awesome because that was the type of player I knew she could be."

"Other players took on different roles," said Say. "We put Jiana Smith-Francis at point guard and moved Jayden Davis to the wing so she can build confidence there and let her do what she does in the open court a little more. Jiana does a great job accepting any role I give her, and she understood what I was trying to do get Jayden going. Jiana sees the floor well with the basketball in her hand and she accepted that role, which was awesome. It allowed other people to shine a little bit, I guess you can say."

The Lady Buffs beat Cascade 58-46.

Blowing past Banks

The White Buffalos played Banks in their second game of the tournament, and both Banks and Madras play very aggressive styles.

"Banks lost a lot of firepower last year with some of their all-state players, but still played us very aggressive," Say said. "In the first half they tried to press us and played man-to-man half-court defense. Jayden was able to get in the open court, and she went off in the first half, scoring around 16 points. We ran the court well, stayed patient against their press and didn't rush into traps, like we were at the start of the season. We were able to control the game even though the score was close for most of the game."

"DaRia White had a good game," he said. "She came out aggressive on defense and had around eight points herself. She was able to capitalize on some good looks. Jayden was really the shining star in that game for sure. Defensively, we just played really solid team defense. When I went back to the film, we were all talking when we were in our zone defense, moving in unison, rotating well in our traps. We also played really good pressure defense as well. Everything really started to click when we wanted it to."

Madras controlled the game to seal a 48-41 victory over Banks.

Championship loss

Madras played 8-3 La Grande in the championship game. La Grande had six players that were 5 feet, 11 inches. The Lady Buffs' tallest player is 5-foot-8, but Madras stuck to a game plan to try to neutralize the height difference.

"I could tell our girls were tired right off the get-go, but we were still able to tie the game at 15-15 at the end of the first quarter," Say said. "We were really undersized, but we had a game plan to make it as difficult as possible on their primary player, which was their point guard. She is a knockdown shooter and can take you off the dribble, as well. I was trying to rotate players on her, trying to make other players beat us besides her. We did well but missed a lot of chip shots and free throws. If we convert on those things, we are right there. Our girls battled hard. It was an aggressive, physical game, that wasn't very high scoring."

"Jayden had another good offensive game in the first half," he said. "Jiana had a really good offensive game in the second half. Jayden had around 19 points and Jiana 18. Some of the other girls chipped in. It was a really good tournament overall, and we battled hard. We had a solid week of practice going into the tournament, and it really showed. We played quality opponents that we will see in the playoffs, so it was a good weekend."

After the loss, Madras moved to 6-5 on the year and are the No. 6-ranked 4A team in Oregon.

The Lady Buffs have two home games next. They play 6A Mountain View (6-2) at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, and play No. 9-ranked Valley Catholic at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17.

"I feel like we are on a path to close out the preseason, heading into the right direction for league play," Say said. "The girls are really understanding the different positions because we are all interchangeable. We don't have traditional posts or guards. I feel like anyone and everyone could play any position. It is starting to come together, and we are able to start adding some twists in our schematics to get people different looks when we get into league. We haven't shown everything we can do yet."

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