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MHS girls basketball keeps improving


   From a close loss to La Pine, the Madras girls' basketball team has positive signs to build on going into Intermountain Conference play. The White Buffalos were edged 58-56 in Friday's middle game of the Sisters Holiday Tournament.
   Madras also lost to Sisters and unbeaten Junction City in the Sisters tourney. The Buffs went 1-10 in nonleague games.
   "We're struggling with our consistency," Madras coach Becky Burchell said. "The Sisters tourney shows that. We played a good game against La Pine, but struggled in the other two games."
   Turnovers are the nemesis for the team entering the season with just one returning starter. The Buffs had 17 against La Pine, a season low.
   "That's where we've struggled. It's what we need to work on before we start league," Burchell said.
   The IMC season opens with a pair of home games. Madras hosts The Dalles-Wahtonka this Friday and then Bend on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
   Sisters 46, Madras 32: The host Outlaws took control with an 18-6 second quarter in the tourney opener Thursday.
   Madras stayed close in the first quarter, trailing 12-11. The return of sophomore post Klesia Plazola was a factor. The sophomore scored 13 points after missing the first eight games due to a sprained ankle suffered during volleyball season.
   "Klesia's been practicing with us for a couple of weeks," Burchell said. "She's been staying in shape. It's good to have her back. She gives us another post player."
   La Pine 58, Madras 56: The Buffs scored a season high in the basket-for-basket game.
   A trio of factors led to the season high. Besides limiting turnovers, Madras' guards played at a faster pace.
   "We were pushing the ball and moving the ball well," Burchell said.
   That led to productive games by all of the Buff posts, combining for 33 of the 56 points.
   Marisa Ahern and Plazola scored nine each. Cheyenne Wahnetah added eight points and Krista Haugen seven.
   "All of the posts did a great job of getting position and the guards did a great job of getting them the ball," the coach said.
   The posts helped Madras stay close to La Pine. Madras scored 19 points in the second quarter and 17 more in the fourth. Six different Buffs scored in those two quarters.
   Madras led briefly, 52-51. The Hawks regained the lead, taking time to put up a shot.
   Junction City 52, Madras 27: Playing a third game in three days showed against the No. 1-ranked 4A team Saturday.
   Unbeaten Junction City took control with a 16-4 outburst in the second quarter. The Tigers were up 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.
   Ahern led the Buffs with six points.