Senior night belongs to Lady Buffs; off to Cottage Grove
The Madras girls basketball team (15-8) won their senior night game 56-30 against Estacada (1-22) on Feb. 24.
Madras has made the 4A state playoffs and will play Cottage Grove at on its court Friday, March 6.
Madras celebrated five seniors — Jiana Smith-Francis, Dominique Walker, Anona Francis, Jonissa Scott and Keala Rauschenburg — before the tipoff started.
"The seniors, this is their second year with me. There has been some adjustments for them, but they have come a long way," head coach Jerin Say said. "We have grown together, we butted heads a little bit from one style to another style, but in the end, they work hard for me, do what I ask them to do. I appreciate them and respect them. Senior night is a special night, and everyone was able to play, lots of people got shots up. It was a feel-good night tonight."
Madras spent the majority of the first quarter trying to get Rauschenburg, an athlete with Down's syndrome, to make a 3-pointer on senior night. Estacada took an 8-0 lead on the Lady Buffs early, before Rylie Canifax, of Estacada, decided to keep passing the ball to Rauschenburg so she could make a shot. The crowd gave loud applause to Canifax and the sportsmanship she was showing.
Rauschenburg made a 3-pointer, and the crowd erupted as the team celebrated. Once the shot was made, the rest of the girls were ready to start scoring. Anona Francis made two free throws near the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Buffs were down 7-14 at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, the Rangers called a timeout up 16-9 with 6:33 left in the half. After the timeout, Madras came out on fire.
The Lady Buffalos went on a 22-0 run, scoring on a mix of easy baskets off of a press, hard drives to the rim and 3-point shots. Near the end of the first half, ChaCha Ramirez made a 3-pointer, and Madras was up 35-19 at halftime.
Walker scored on a lay-in from an inbounds play to start the second half, and Smith-Francis scored on a drive to the rim of the next play.
A few plays later, Smith-Francis scored an and-1 on another tough finish at the rim, and the Buffs had a 43-25 lead. The White Buffalos put their substitutes in to close out the game.
Rauschenburg was able to go into the game one more time and made another shot to close out the game as Madras beat the Rangers 53-30.
"I thought it (senior night) went really well overall," Smith-Francis said. "All the seniors were really excited for the game, and we came out and played really well. It was a slow start at the beginning because we were trying to get Keala some shots, since she didn't play much this season. This was kind of unreal. I have always played with these girls at tournaments and school ball, so it is just sad that it is almost over.
"I think playoffs will be tough," she said. "They (Cottage Grove) are very tall and way lengthier than us, but I feel like if we play hard, it will beat all of that."
Smith-Francis led the Buffalos in scoring with 19 points, while Walker, who left the game early with an ankle injury, finished with nine points. Jayden Davis ended the game with seven points, and Rauschenburg had five points in the contest.
Madras finished the regular season with a 15-8 overall record, 7-3 in the Tri-Valley Conference and ranked No. 9 in 4A. They have made the postseason and will play Cottage Grove at Cottage Grove Friday, March 6.
The Lionesses finished in first place in the Sky-Em Conference with a 9-1 league record. They finished the regular season with an 18-6 overall record, ranked No. 8 in 4A.
"It looks like we are playing Cottage Grove on the road, we are the nine seed right now," Say said. "They have three 6-footers on their team and play zone. We are just going to have to play our style of basketball and get up and down the court, try and tire them out."
"I feel good going into the playoffs," said Say. "The girls have been playing really well. Against North Marion, Gladstone, Molalla, we have had some really good quality games. We played in different scenarios. We had to fight back to get into overtime with some efficient basketball. In Molalla, we controlled the game with free throws and no turnovers, so I feel good in the direction we are going. We just need to find a way to keep the momentum going with this week and a half layoff. That is our biggest challenge so far."
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