All in IMC boys' hoop playoff race

Hermiston alone in first, everyone else chasing three spots
Twice, the Madras boys' basketball team was in position for an Intermountain Conference win last week.
   Entering the fourth quarter, the White Buffalos trailed Pendleton by three points and at Mountain View by one. Madras came back to beat Pendleton last Thursday, 81-78. However, the Buffs fell at Mountain View 75-66 on Saturday.
   The split leaves Madras at 2-2 in IMC play entering this week (not including a home game against league leader Hermiston on Tuesday, Jan. 22, played after press time).
   All but Hermiston enter this week with either two or three IMC losses. Thus, seven teams remain in contention for three state playoff spots.
   Madras faces two of those teams on the road in upcoming games. The Buffs are at Bend on Friday, making up the game postponed from Jan. 8 due to snow. Madras also travels to Summit on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
   Mountain View 75, Madras 66: The Buffs were seemingly right where they wanted to be going into the final quarter.
   Throughout an earlier seven-game winning streak (and against Pendleton) Madras was just behind entering the fourth quarter.
   "That's what I told the guys at the quarter break; that these are the kind of games we've won all season," Buff coach Allen Hair said.
   Madras was coming off a 24-point third quarter with seven different players scoring. Robert Main had six and Terence Wolfe five points.
   "We were finding the open guys and they were hitting their shots," Hair said. "That's how our system can work. Mountain View was really concentrating on Robert and Albert (Adams), so we were looking to other guys."
   Unfortunately, that trend didn't continue in the fourth quarter. The Buffs scored just 11 points, their lowest-scoring quarter in IMC play of the season.
   Meanwhile, the Cougars continued their hot shooting. The hosts shot 72 percent in the second half (16 of 22). Post Sean Dart (6-foot-7) led the way, hitting 15 of 17 shots for the game. Dart scored a game-high 31 points to go along with 12 rebounds, playing much of the game without Madras' tallest player, Josh Roth at 6-3, defending him. Roth sustained a first-half ankle injury. His playing status is uncertain.
   Mountain View was coming off a two-point home win against Crook County (53-51 on Tuesday, Jan. 15).
   For Madras, Albert Adams had 16 points and Main 14. C.J. Easterling added 13. Darrell Ceciliani had team highs in rebounds with eight and assists with five.
   Madras 81, Pendleton 78: Apparently, playing Pendleton is a cure-all for Robert Main. The Buff senior was a key part of Madras' fourth-quarter rally against the Buckaroos less than a week after wearing a sling due to a bruised shoulder.
   Main scored his career high of 27 points in an earlier victory against Pendleton (on Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Wilsonville Invitational).
   "Really, I'm not sure if I should have played tonight," Main said. "It hurt (the left shoulder) early in the game and I was struggling. Once the game got going, it felt better."
   Especially in the final three minutes, when the senior scored 10 of his 12 points. It started with a 3-pointer to give the Buffs a brief lead (72-69).
   Pendleton jumped ahead with seven straight points for a 75-72 lead. Two baskets came on inside shots and three more points from the foul line. With 2:15 left, the visitors owned a 19-6 advantage from the foul line.
   Then the Buffs stampeded to a win. Main hit another trey for a 75-all tie. He followed up with a rebound basket after Madras missed two shots for another brief lead (77-75).
   Pendleton answered with another inside shot, this time with a two-footer and subsequent free throw by Spenser Sundin (for a 78-77 lead). Sundin scored all 13 of his points in the second half after hitting for 25 in the previous meeting.
   That was Pendleton's last lead.
   The Buffs scored the game's final four points, all from the foul line. Albert Adams drained a pair of free throws with 22 seconds after being fouled when he gathered in a defensive rebound.
   Main added two more free throws, with 18 and then 14 seconds left. The second came after he gathered in his own missed shot.
   "That is just what you think of when you're younger, hitting free throws in the final seconds to win a game," Main said.
   The Buffs also forced a turnover, missed two free throws, and Pendleton missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.
   Madras' comeback came after jumping ahead 13-5 in the opening minutes. The visitors rallied to lead for most of the middle quarters. Pendleton led 52-48 but that lead was erased by a 10-0 spurt to open the fourth quarter.
   Albert Adams drained a pair of 3-pointers and C.J. Easterling had a layup to finish off the run.
   "Albert's 3s, that's what got us going," Main said.
   Adams finished with 17 points with five treys. Easterling had 15 points, mostly on layups, and eight rebounds. Turner Gill and Austin Say added 11 each.
   "That's just what we need from C.J.," Hair said. "We were able to get the ball inside to him. He also was grabbing rebounds, along with other guys. This was one of the few times we were even with the other team on the boards."
   The Buffs outrebounded the equally-sized visitors 52-51. Josh Roth and Terence Wolfe also pulled down six while three other Buffs had four or more.