Cowboys corral White Buffalos in opener
Buffs struggle shooting the ball in loss
The Madras boys basketball team couldn't get into an offensive rhythm Friday night, which led to a 54-44 loss to Crook County in the team's season opener in Madras.
Both teams had trouble scoring in the early going of their first game of the season, but Crook County was able to hit shots from the perimeter to kill any momentum the White Buffalos built, led by a game-high 17 points from Preston Washechek and three 3-pointers from Jacob Mahurin.
Breaking in nearly an entire new starting lineup from last year, chock full of younger players, Madras head coach Allen Hair said he was more concerned about defense, saying they left the Crook County shooters open and didn't close out to contest shots.
"When you leave shooters that wide open at this level, they are bound to hit some shots," Hair said. "(Crook County head coach) Jeff (Lowenbach) does a great job at getting his shooters in the right spot."
While the Cowboys were hitting outside shots pretty well throughout the game, Madras was still able to keep pace with them. With 5:20 left in the third period, senior Jhaylen Yeahquo slipped a nice pass inside to Devon Wolfe for a layin to cut Crook County's lead to 30-28, but that was as close as the Buffs would come to taking the lead.
Crook County went on a run late in the third period to take a 41-33 lead and held off the Buffs for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore point guard Jered Pichette and senior shooting guard Rodney Mitchell each scored 11 points to lead the Buffs. Mitchell hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first half to help keep the Buffs within striking distance, and Pichette made quite a showing in his first varsity action.
Hair wasn't about to sugar coat the loss, though. He knows his team has to shoot the ball better in order to stay in games.
"We shot the ball horrendously," he said. "If we would have stepped up and played tougher defensively, I think it's a closer ballgame and we give ourselves a shot near the end."
With the personnel Hair has at his disposal, he'll be able to mix-and-match players in different positions, and while he still wants to win the games in the nonconference schedule to help the team's RPI, he realizes he's going to have to try different combinations to see which rotations he can use and know they are going to produce.
In the middle of the second quarter, Madras tied the game at 18-18 on a Bryson Spino 3-pointer, but the Cowboys ended the frame on an 8-2 flurry that was littered with turnovers from both teams.
As far as Hair is concerned, the offense is something that's going to come. The team has been running the same fastbreak offense for years and the players know how to run it; it's just a matter how the team is going to defend better and create offense from solid perimeter defense.
"We weren't very good fundamentally on defense," Hair said. "We need to have more energy on defense, and we're going to have nights we struggled offensively so our defense is going to have to carry us"
The result for Tuesday's home game with Mountain View was unavailable by the Pioneer's press deadline. The Buffs continue nonconference play Friday when they host Banks.