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Returning starter Douglas Cochran will try to help drag Buffs out of the basement in a tough Tri-Valley Conference.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras seniors Mason Strong, right, and Douglas Cochran work on drills during an early practice. Cochran, Strong and many others on the team grew up together playing basketball at recess in Warm Springs.After a disappointing 1-11 outing in the spring season, the Madras boys basketball team is ready to start writing a new chapter.

At practice last week, head coach Nick Brown discussed his outlook for the season and the style of play he expects to deploy in order to turn the tide.

"We like to play quickly at times in transition and use our quickness and athleticism to our advantage," said Brown. "Offensively, we like to get up and down."

On the other side of the ball, however, Brown noted the team will try to slow things down a bit more.

"Defensively, kind of the opposite," said Brown. "We want to grind teams and be a great, great defensive team. We want to be able to win some lower-scoring games."

Brown noted that the team is returning just one regular starter from last season, senior Douglas Cochran. The coach also noted that Seneca Ball, a sophomore, started a few games in the spring.

While a lack of continuity in the starting lineup can be a problem point in some cases, perhaps a changing of the guard will usher in newfound success for the Buffs.

For his part, Cochran says he is ready to do whatever it takes to help the team — including changing positions.

Thanks to a growth spurt over the summer, Cochran will be lining up as the power forward in Brown's team sheet. He played both guard positions last year, though Cochran noted he was primarily a shooting guard.

"It's a bit of a change, but that's kind of the gameplan for this year," said Cochran. He noted that he is looking forward to a great working relationship with Ball, who will play point guard.

"I'm excited for our first game," Cochran continued. "I want to do a lot. It's kind of a big change for me, but I've just got to adapt and get better. I think I can take the challenge on."

As a senior, Cochran is embracing the fact that this is his final hurrah for MHS.

"This is my year to shine," Cochran said.

Fellow seniors on the team include Hekili Harry, Jayson Main and Mason Strong.

"We actually grew up playing basketball with each other," said Cochran, "so we know how each other plays." He added that many of the players on the White Buffalo squad have been playing together since their early school days in Warm Springs.

"That's where it all started," he recalled. "We're all from Warm Springs. It started at recess."

That camaraderie and familiarity should come in handy for the Buffs this year as they try to climb the standings in what will be a contentious Tri-Valley season.

"It's going to interesting this year," said Brown. "Gladstone was really good last year, but they lost a lot of guys. It's tough to know what they have. We know for sure Corbett's got a strong returning group."

Besides just the Gladiators and Cardinals, Brown believes the league will be strong from top to bottom.

"I think the other ones will be solid as well, between Estacada, North Marion and Molalla," said Brown. "There's not going to be any super-low teams in our league, but I don't think there is going to be a top-five team in the state, either."

Even though it's still early days for this year's team, Brown is encouraged by what he has seen in practice so far.

"We were really excited about what we saw," said Brown. "Taking some really big leaps with some of our younger guys coming up. Just really, really excited for our future and our continued development."

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