>Hoping to stay in contention against Estacada before trip to Wilsonville

   Having climbed into first place in the Tri-Valley League by beating Sherwood at home three days earlier, Madras High's boys basketball team was caught from behind Friday.
   In losing, 54-52, at La Salle, the White Buffalos lost the league lead.
   La Salle rebuffed Jacoby Ellsbury's 14-point outing for Madras as the Falcons flew to a win pulling them even with Valley Catholic, at 6-2.
   Madras slipped to 6-3 after its third road loss in league play. The two co-leaders administered two of those league losses to Madras. The other came at Estacada, which was slated to visit Madras Tuesday. That game was played after Pioneer deadlines.
   Losing Friday's showdown at La Salle left Madras 6-3 in league play. It remained just ahead of the Wilsonville team it has to visit Tuesday, Feb. 19. That game holds definite playoff implications.
   "Almost everything about the game was even. We just didn't get our last shots to go," Madras coach Evan Brown said.
   La Salle and Madras made the same number of field goals and free throws. The difference was the result of La Salle sinking five three-point field goals to Madras' three.
   He planned to dedicate Monday's practice to having the White Buffalos focus on the plays and defenses they needed to beat Estacada, said Brown. Things they could have done better at La Salle were going to be left behind until in practices when they might have to meet that team again, Brown explained.
   Wilsonville's strengths and weaknesses will be what the Buffs are working on in the latter part of this week, noted Brown.
   Madras' lead melted in its first game of last week as well as at La Salle.
   On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Buffs broke out of a defensive and scoring slump in time to thwart Sherwood's comeback bid.
   Having used a six-point burst which included baskets by Dominique Easterling and Ellsbury to erase a 5-2 Sherwood lead in the first quarter, Madras made the most of its quickness in bending the visiting Bowmen.
   Madras made a run late in the first quarter -- capped by a three-point play by Ellsbury -- which turned its once narrow (8-7) margin into a 17-12 advantage.
   Inside baskets by Easterling and Tim Kirsch early in the second quarter launched the Buffs on a run which turned their 17-14 lead into a 29-14 buffer.
   Madras maintained most that lead during the second and third stanzas, starting the fourth quarter ahead 42-30.
   But Sherwood started shrinking the lead. When it was cut to 55-52, Brown called a time out at 1:37. Intense defense plus attacking offense in the following minute delivered baskets which increased the Madras margin to 59-52.
   "We played too much not to lose in that fourth quarter," Brown said of the Sherwood threat the Buffs stopped.
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