For the Madras boys water polo team, the season came to an end Saturday after a 14-8 loss to powerhouse West Albany in the 5A/4A state playoffs at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center in Bend.
>Girls team preps for state semifinals in Beaverton
Madras head coach Bobby DeRoest knew the Bulldogs, who finished second in the state last season, would be a tough test for his club, but the White Buffalos gave them all they had.
"We knew they would be big and physical, and really our only advantage was we were faster than them," he said. DeRoest said West Albany had players that measured in at 6 feet, 5 inches and taller, which created matchup problems when the Bulldogs set up their offense.
The Buffs tried to use their speed to an advantage, and while they were pretty successful in doing that, DeRoest said, the Bulldogs just kept coming at them.
After the team trailed 10-2 at the half, DeRoest said he told his team to come out and push the pace to begin the third quarter and tire out the bigger West Albany team - and it worked for awhile.
Madras posted five goals in the frame, and allowed just one, to climb back into the match.
"We wanted to play fast, and we were able to tire them out a bit, but we missed some opportunities we really should have made," DeRoest said. "And West Albany made some they shouldn't have. It felt like it should have been 8-4 or so at the half."
The Buffs cut the Bulldogs' lead to three with a quick goal to open up the fourth quarter, but that was all the scoring they could muster in the last period.
West Albany tallied three points in the final quarter to seal the match and send the Buffs home earlier than they had hoped.
After 28 minutes of water polo in a pool with no shallow end to rest their legs, something the team wasn't used to playing regular league games, DeRoest said it was a matter of time before his team would be able to take advantage of their superior conditioning.
"We were in better shape, but West Albany went ahead early and it was pretty tough to come back from."
Ian Goodwin scored three times for the Buffs, while Bryce Williams tallied a pair of goals.
Brady Tucker, Cade Boston and Jordan Gemelas each had one in their final game of the season.
The girls team, meanwhile, had the weekend off after winning the division championship and earning a bye to the state semifinals.
They will take on league foe Summit, which upset South division favorite Ashland in the playoffs Saturday in Bend, at 12:10 p.m. at Tualatin Hills Swim Center in Beaverton.
The squad has gone two weeks without playing a match, and while it could be seen as an advantage since they're rested and healthy, DeRoest was hesitant to give it his full endorsement.
"I don't think it's going to make much of a difference," he said. "Two weeks without a game isn't necessarily the best thing, but we're going to get out there and play hard."
Madras has beat the Storm three times this season, all the times they've been in the pool together, but DeRoest isn't about to let his team overlook them.
"We're confident, but we don't want to be cocky about it and not play our game," he said. "We're faster than they are and that's how we are going to play."
Behind the scoring of Brianna Hunt and Aurora Gerhardt, along with the rock-solid defense they have been playing recently, the Buffs are a matchup problem for any team and have a great shot to bring home a trophy.
DeRoest said one of the teams he was worrieed about headed into the playoffs was Ashland, and since Summit knocked them off in the playoffs, he said West Albany is going to be the favorite to win the title. The Bulldogs are the defending state champs and will play Parkrose in the other 5A/4A semifinal.
"Hopefully we get a shot to play West Albany," DeRoest said. "If we do, I like to think our girls have some fight in them and have a good chance to beat them."