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The Madras girls basketball team closed out its non-league schedule with two big road wins over Bonanza and Riverdale.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras win Kalise Holliday was one of the main cogs in head coach Jerin Say's revitalized full-court press. Holliday tied with Sasha Esquiro with a team-high 9 steals in wins last week over Bonanza and Riverdale.When a team is looking to establish its identity, sometimes it needs to try out a few different looks.

For the Madras girls basketball team, it appears that identity is beginning to take a clearly defined shape.

The White Buffalos used a suffocating and opportunistic defense to stifle the opposing offenses of Bonanza and Riverdale last week to improve to 5-7 overall on the season as they finish up non-league play. The Buffs' own offense was clicking as well, and the team outscored their two opponents by a combined tally of 131-71.

The victories snapped a four-game skid for Madras, replacing it with a modest two-game win streak. However, because state playoff spots are determined by league records, the wins and losses to this point of the season are largely academic.

What is more important is that the team is learning how to play to its strengths in order to control the game on both ends of the floor.

"We have changed our style of play back to pressing all game, creating more turnovers, more possessions and creating more tempo in the game," said head coach Jerin Say, the reigning Tri-Valley Coach of the Year. "We were able to control the games and take the other teams (Bonanza and Riverdale) out of what they normally do."

Those defensive efforts seemed to pay immediate dividends, as the Buffs — who had allowed over 52 points per game to opponents through the first 10 contests — held Bonanza and Riverdale to 35 and 36 points, respectively. Sasha Esquiro and Kalise Holliday both had nine steals last week, many of which came as their opponents tried to bring the ball up the floor.

"This style seems to fit this team no matter who is in the lineup since we have had an inconsistent starting five as well as bench players due to numerous reasons," explained Say. "The team feels good and confident with this style of play and we are ready to defend our league title."

That title defense begins in earnest tonight, when the Madras hosts Molalla at 7 p.m. in the Buffalo Dome. Then, the Buffs travel to Estacada this Friday, Jan. 21.


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