>Beating The Dalles keeps Buffs just one game behind Wilsonville

   Sports Editor
   Madras plagued The Dalles with gnat-like moves from Natalie Mitchell and a menacing presence from Tosha Wilson on Friday. Creating those problems and others, while showing some poise, let the White Buffalos claim a 51-32 varsity girls basketball win.
   Winning pulled Madras into second-place, at 5-2, in the Tri-Valley League. While tied with The Dalles, record wise, Madras owned the tie-breaking advantage of having swept the two league games against The Dalles. Madras also stayed just one game behind Wilsonville, whose only league loss thus far came against The Dalles.
   Madras will host La Salle on Friday, Feb. 8, in a change from the original schedule, after starting the week Feb. 5 game at Sherwood in a game starting after Pioneer deadlines.
   Nicole Main got back into a shooting groove in taking and making more midrange shots for Madras on her way to a game-high 14 points against The Dalles. Mitchell and Wilson chipped in with nine each for Madras.
   Making between 40 and 45 percent of their shots, after being lower in some recent games, Madras satisfied Coach Mike Osborne with its shooting.
   "That's not great, but we were getting better shots and the girls had more control in taking shots," Osborne said.
   "We had 11 turnovers, which is a little more than we'd like, but some of them were unforced and came while we were doing some good things, like trying to run the floor," said Osborne.
   A couple of Madras mistakes in the early minutes let The Dalles rally from 4-0 and 8-4 deficits to take a 9-8 lead before Madras settled into a pace that re-established the edge it built early. Two steals leading to driving layups, ignited and finished by a combination of Wilson, Jare Retherford, Tara Prow and Rylee Sweeney let Madras roar from one point behind into a 14-9 lead after the first quarter.
   The Dalles drew back within a point, on Samantha Krier and Maria North baskets in the opening minutes of the second quarter. But a basket by Main, free throws by Jaylyn Suppah and put-back layup by Elise Hawes put Madras back in control, 20-13. The surge also inspired a time out by The Dalles, with 3:29 left in the half.
   Madras built its lead to 26-15 by halftime.
   Adding to the Main, Wilson, Mitchell triumvirate in Madras' scoring were Hawes with seven points, Suppah with six and Rylee Sweeney, Tarah Sweeney and Maurica Cortez, with two each. Michelle Manion, Prow and Retherford helped create some of the Madras points without scoring themselves.
   Krier was held below her average for The Dalles, at 12 points. The Indians' second-highest scorer was Micah Clark with 10. Madras held the rest of the lineup to only 10, five of which North provided. Anne Haley and Pearl Hoffman scored two each and Rachel Cell one.
   "We didn't back down. We were physical when we needed to be," Osborne said.
   He said a good week of practice including talking about knowing different players' tendency to drive and being willing to step in was typified by Mitchell taking a charge against Krier that left The Dalles with few options.
   Friday's home game is the next to the last of the season for the Buffs. They travel to Estacada Feb. 12 before honoring seniors in a Feb. 19 pre-game ceremony against Wilsonville. That game at Madras could determine first place, if the Buffs keep winning. A Feb. 21 trip to Valley Catholic will close the regular season for Madras.
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