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The defending Tri-Valley champs were shorthanded for the Sisters Holiday Shootout and ended up going 1-2 at the event.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Madras head girls basketball coach Jerin Say talks strategy with senior Shantelle Henry during an early-season matchup with Redmond at Madras High School.For a Madras team looking to build some momentum, the Sisters Holiday Shootout did not quite go to plan.

The White Buffalos went 1-2 at the three-day tournament, placing fifth overall. Madras won its opening round game against Sisters on Tuesday before falling to Ridgeview in the semifinals and then to La Grande in the consolation round.

While the results are not ideal, neither were the circumstances, said head coach Jerin Say.

"It didn't go as expected for us," explained Say. "We played shorthanded this weekend, mostly with seven players. Just some in-house stuff that took place. That's the way it is, and because of that, we had to make some adjustments on the fly and bring up some JV players to fill their spots."

Despite the team not being at fill strength, say was still pleased with how the White Buffalos performed in the grand scheme.

"The girls that played," continued Say, "(they) played extremely hard. Good effort. With different lineups and girls playing different positions, it was just a scramble on offense to try to make stuff happen. But overall the girls got a lot of good experience playing those positions."

Normally, a tournament like this would have been a great learning experience and bonding environment for the team. So while there were definite positives to be taken from the event, the lingering taste was notably more bitter than sweet.

"It's tough," said the coach. "When you go into tournaments like this, we're talking about team bonding stuff off the court, and then on the court, we're thinking about where we want to finish in the tournament and what we what to get out of it."

"So, when a wrench is thrown in right before it starts," Say continued, "it just becomes about giving effort, good attitude for the girls that are out there playing and just reevaluating as we go."

What's done is done, though, and Say reports that the team is ready to move on with the rest of the season.

"Not dwelling on not living up to what we came here for," noted Say. "We'll see what the future holds moving forward. We get a couple practices before our next match, so hopefully with the girls that we have playing, we'll be able to get them more comfortable playing in different spots and making those adjustments."

Among those Buffs who played in the Holiday Shootout, Say noted a few who were deserving of praise.

"Cha Cha Ramirez came out and did really well," Say pointed out. "Rylan Davis did really well as a young point guard and got a lot of good reps attacking and playing against aggressive defenders."

"Maija Poland, she did really well," Say remarked of the squad's tallest player. "Instead of playing down low the whole time, there were times when we played her up high as a guard. She shoots really well in practice, so she was able to step out and get some 3-pointers up and play a little inside-out."

The season may have taken an unexpected turn, but Say and the Buffs are ready to roll with the punches.

"Things got sped up in terms of process and players this weekend," explained Say, "so we're just going to try speeding it up even more now. There's no reason to hold it back."

Madras had to postpone its scheduled matchup for Monday, Jan. 3, as Rainier closed its schools due to bad weather. The Buffs will wrap up their non-league season with two difficult games against Top 10 teams in the 4A classification. First, the team hosts Baker at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Buffs get a rematch with La Grande.

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