Injury puts damper on Madison

Elsewhere in the PIL, only Jefferson rates in a state coaches' poll

Madison's early season surge in boys basketball suffered a crippling blow in late December with the loss of 6-foot-11 senior Chris Botez for, potentially, the rest of the season.

The Senators were ranked No. 7 in the state and had seemingly overcome forfeiting three games when Botez suffered a debilitating knee injury during a 63-60 loss to Jefferson on Dec. 15.

After an MRI exam on his right knee, Botez was told by a doctor to stop practicing, perhaps for the remainder of the season, so the knee can heal.

'We're really not sure how long he's going to be out,' Madison coach Chuck Matthews says. 'It's a tough situation because we need him, but there's a lot more at stake than just winning this season. He's got college to think of.'

Botez was a key to the Senators' blowing through Jefferson's pressure defense and keeping that game close until the final seconds. Without him, the Senators must rely on 6-8 junior Bobby Lester and two other unproven players to man the front line.

'That's not such a strong area for us now,' Matthews says. 'We're really going to rely on our guards. They're going to need to be even more aggressive in getting to the basket.'

Senior guard Chris Stephens has led the team in scoring and been impressive in getting to the basket, as has junior Geno Quinones, who scored 27 points in a nonleague game against Corvallis. Quinones is shooting 65 percent from the field.

'We need guys to step up, and he's doing that,' Matthews says of Quinones. 'We're going to need that for the rest of the season.'

Without Botez, Madison went 2-1 in the Barlow High tournament. The Senators, 1-2 in Portland Interscholastic League games, play host to Cleveland on Wednesday and travel to PIL co-leader Wilson next Friday.

MORE HOOPS: When the state coaches' poll came out Monday for boys basketball, the damage done by losses during the Les Schwab Invitational and then the Barlow tourney was complete for the PIL.

Only Jefferson survived in the top 10, and even the Democrats weren't immune to some disrespect, as they were placed at No. 2 despite almost beating USA Today's No. 2 team, Oak Hill, Va.

Defending state champion Churchill, which lost by 30 to Oak Hill one night after Jefferson lost by six, is ranked No. 1. The teams are separated by one vote, 86-85.

Jefferson plays a nonleague game in Seattle against Garfield High on Saturday before returning to PIL play Wednesday.

The other PIL teams that were ranked entering the holiday break, No. 7 Madison and No. 10 Benson, both dropped from the poll. Madison lost to surprising Grants Pass in the Barlow tournament, and the Techmen dropped two of four games in the invitational a week after losing to Lincoln. Wilson went 1-3 in the invitational, and Lincoln went 1-2 at Barlow.

Jesuit came in at No. 7 in the coaches' poll and Central Catholic, despite losing three of four games in the invitational, is just five votes from being No. 10.

GIRLS HOOPS: No. 7 Central Catholic should move up in the coaches' poll when it's released again Monday. The Rams won the 16-team Navy Division of the Adidas Interstate Shootout at Lake Oswego on Saturday.