Cowboys shoot down Buff win streak
Madras loses game, leading scorer in IMC contest
Maybe getting in a bus and driving around for a bit before playing a home game will make a difference.
That was the dark-humor joke among the Madras boys' basketball coaches after an 88-67 home loss to Crook County on Friday. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak with all but the first victory on the road.
It was also the White Buffalos' first Intermountain Conference loss. Madras had a chance to stay unbeaten in the IMC while handing the Cowboys a second league loss.
Friday's defeat was doubly expensive.
Leading scorer Robert Main left in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. Main averaged 19.3 points a game during the winning streak, but played less than three minutes against Crook County.
"I hit somebody's leg, kind of flew through the air and landed against the (padded) wall," said Main upon returning from Mountain View Hospital after the game with his left arm in a sling. "I sprained my shoulder. Now I'm day-to-day when I can come back."
Main's injury was rediagnosed as a bruise. His playing time this week will be a game-time decision.
Madras hosts Pendleton on Thursday. The IMC game will be a rematch of championship game of the Wilsonville Invitational Tournament in which Main scored a career-high 27 points.
"They're a scrappy team, very tough to play," Madras coach Allen Hair said of the rematch against Pendleton. "We need to be flying around like we did against them at Wilsonville. We weren't flying around against Crook County and we fell behind."
The Buffs also travel to Mountain View on Saturday. The Cougars are winless in IMC play (not including a home game against Crook County on Tuesday, Jan. 15, played after press time). Then a home game against IMC leader Hermiston looms on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Madras had extra rest before hosting Crook County as snow postponed the Tuesday, Jan. 8, game at Bend. That contest will be on Friday, Jan. 25.
Crook County 88, Madras 67: Even before Main's injury, the visitors were ahead. The Cowboys owned a 13-7 lead just three minutes into the game.
The visitors were going inside, including a dunk by 6-foot-9 post David Reeher. The Buffs were content to shoot 3-pointers with Crook County defenders on them.
"We were taking shots that were being challenged," Hair said. "During our winning streak, we were able to get open shots, either by penetrating to the basket, or kicking the ball out for an open shot. We weren't doing that tonight."
The Buffs cut into that early deficit on treys by Albert Adams and Turner Gill, who led the Buffs with 12 points in the first half. Then, the Cowboys rode away with the lead, going up 31-19 at the end of the first quarter and 52-33 at half.
"This first half went exactly how we planned it," Crook County coach Jeff Lowenbach said. "We were taking the ball to the basket on offense and playing defense how we wanted to."
First-half shot statistics reflected Lowenbach's optimism. Both teams fired up more than 40 shots, but the visitors were more effective. Madras had 46 shots but made just 12 with four treys. The Cowboys hit nearly half their shots (47 percent on 20 of 42 shooting.
"Every team is going to have nights when they don't shoot the ball well, including Madras," the Cowboy coach said. "We were fortunate Madras had one of those nights."
A factor in Madras' missed shots was Reeher's presence near the basket. He blocked six shots, with two in the first half.
"He may have blocked six shots, but he also altered that many," Hair said. "Against a big guy like that, we still need to take the ball right at him. C.J. (Easterling) started to do that in the second half."
Free throws were also a key factor to help the Cowboys slow down the game. The visitors went to the foul line 16 times in the first half (making 10). The Buffs made five of nine foul shots.
Many of Crook County's shots came thanks to offensive rebounds. The Cowboys lassoed 19 to go along with 23 on the defensive end (42 in all). Madras had 20 with 13 offensive with no player gathering in more than three (by C.J] Easterling).
"On our (pre-game talk) board, `getting loose rebounds' was a big key for us," Lowenbach said. "When you play Madras, you have to hustle after rebounds. That's how they get a lot of second shots."
The Cowboy post combo of Reeher and Daniel Teater (6-4) led the way. Reeher had seven rebounds and 12 points in the first half while Teater pulled down six rebounds. Reeher finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while playing little in the fourth quarter.
Yet, the Cowboys' real offensive leader was guard James Nunez. The senior had 21 points in the first half and 29 for the game. Nunez also visited the foul line 10 times, making six shots.
"James had his best game of the season," Lowenbach said. "It wasn't just how many points he scored, but he also made sure everyone else was involved in the game."
Madras had more balanced scoring, with four recording 12 or more points. Albert Adams led the way with 17 and Austin Say had 15, both scoring 11 in the second half. Easterling also added 15, with 10 in the second half.