Madras girls ready to hoop it up

Quicker than last year

   By Brian Liebenstein
   Sports Editor
   Madras High School's girls basketball White Buffalos will have their opponents' attention throughout this season after a second-place finish in the 2001 U.S. Bank - Oregon School Activities Association's 3A state tournament.
   The loss of a few seniors from last year is balanced out by the return of all-state tournament guards Nicole Main and Tosha Wilson, plus post player Elise Hawes, who became a starter for much of her freshman season last winter.
   "Some people will question it, after telling me we were one of the quickest teams they had seen last season, but we are going to be even quicker this year," second-year head coach Mike Osborne noted. The dozen girls who will make up this year's varsity team played together in summer basketball. That has shown in the girls first week or so of workouts. Osborne expressed confidence the team would be ready for its opening game against Crook County on Tuesday.
   Playing Nov. 27 at Prineville will give Osborne a chance to see if the things he has seen the girls do well at practice translate into game action. He described the girls as "ahead of what I expected, really," after their first handful of practices. An early Saturday practice showed him the kind of dedication this year's collection of athletes owns, said Osborne.
   Key roles will be played by more players than the three who started last year, Osborne noted.
   Seniors Tarah Sweeney, Michelle Manion and Natalie Mitchell will each play "quite a few" minutes and in key situations for Madras this season, Osborne said.
   There probably won't be enough minutes for everyone to see action for the 29 or 30 minutes of the 32-minute game they would like to play, said Osborne, but he intends to get most of the players lots of playing time. Playing summer basketball should help create a smooth transition from last season, added Osborne.
   No one on the 12-player roster can be classified as an insurance player or back up.
   "First and foremost, there is no varsity player I don't have confidence in when it comes to playing at this level," Osborne said.
   Joining Main, Wilson and Hawes plus the less-experienced seniors, are a second junior, four more sophomores and a freshman. Osborne said there might be games when some of the players aren't used, but he is hoping to involve everyone whenever possible.
   Jare Retherford, a junior who transfered from Grant Union, will keep learning the Madras system for a few weeks but is showing herself talented at adapting, according to Osborne.
   Tara Prow is adding to Madras' depth after having played at Culver last season. "How quick she can adapt will be a factor," Osborne said in describing how Prow's playing time might increase as the season progresses.
   Fellow sophomores Marissa Cortez and Rylee Sweeney will provide Madras some added size, but that is not as important as other factors, explained Osborne.
   "I want all the girls able to fill a utility role," Osborne said, adding that the statement included sharp-shooting sophomore Jayleen Main and freshman Jaylyn Suppah, who'll be one of the taller Buffs.
   "We don't have post players who can't run the floor. Our guards are taught how to front in case they have to play defense near the basket," Osborne said.
   He wants to have Madras ready for anything, said the second-year coach. He said the guards often team with a post player in putting on a press, as just one example of the multiple roles he wants the players able to fulfill.
   The experience of having gone through some close games and the state tournament last spring will "definitely" help the girls this season, Osborne noted.
   He said fans can expect to see the varsity running up and down the court to play both offense and defense on almost every exchange this season.
   "There's not a time when there's not a green light (to shoot a three-point shot) but the girls will be looking for high percentage shots most the time," said Osborne.
   To ensure diversity, Osborne has the guards work on rebounding and the posts on trapping defense. Some of the team's taller players who are good shooters will take a medium-length jump shot instead of only layups, Osborne added as another example.
   The Tri-Valley League it is in willl be as tough as ever for Madras, noted Osborne. But, he said, the girls have shown they enjoy challenges.