Boys, girls kick off postseason play in Bend

The Madras High School water polo program is hoping that Friday will be a good day in the pool.

The White Buffalos kick off the Class 5A/4A North section tournament at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center in Bend on Friday, with the boys beginning at 5:20 p.m. and the girls at 7:50 p.m.

On the boys side, the Buffs will enter the tournament seeded fourth and take on No. 5 Bend for the fourth time this season. Madras leads the season series against the Lava Bears 3-0, and head coach Bobby DeRoest said the team has been playing well lately, so he feels good about the team’s chances of advancing further in the postseason.

“We’ve kind of had a roller coaster year with the boys, but we’ve got good positive momentum heading into the weekend,” DeRoest said. “I hope we can build on that and continue to be successful.”

DeRoest said the teams seeded ahead of the Buffs — Mountain View, Summit and Parkrose — are all tough, but he’s confident with the way the Buffs are playing right now that they can go toe-to-toe with the big boys.

“I think we can compete with anyone in the league,” DeRoest said. “The entire starting unit, as a whole, has stepped up and has been great.”

Individually speaking, DeRoest said he has been impressed with the way Ian Goodwin has taken over a lot of the leadership responsibility for the team this season.

“I’ve been very happy with what Ian has been able to do from a leadership standpoint,” DeRoest said. “He’s giving it everything he has, and the team respects him. The team has responded very well to him being the leader, and I’ve just been real pleased to see him take that on.”

In the first girls match of the tournament, the third-seeded Buffs will take on Sandy, the No. 6 seed. The two teams have played just once this year, and Sandy took the win, but the Buffs were without one of their top goal scorers in Sophie Gemelas.

“The girls are a much better team with Sophie in the water,” DeRoest said. “Sophie has had other obligations recently, so she has missed a couple matches and tournaments, but the girls learned to play without her, and that made everyone else better.”

The Buffs will have Gemelas in the pool this time around, and DeRoest feels with the way the squad has been playing, they should be competitive.

“The girls have been in the thick of every game they have played,” DeRoest said. “We’ve had to learn on the fly a little bit, and people have had to take different roles. They have done an outstanding job so far.”

DeRoest said Cirelle Frank and Aurora Gerhardt have been playing very well lately, and that with Gemelas gone for part of the time, they’ve had to elevate their games even more.

A win for either team on Friday will qualify them for the state playoffs, which will be held Oct. 31 at Tualatin Hills Swim Center in Beaverton. The Saturday games of the sectional tournament are strictly for seeding purposes.

If the Buff boys win, they will play at 12:20 p.m. Saturday in a semifinal match against the winner of the match between top-seeded Mountain View and No. 8 Sandy.

If the Buff girls win, they’ll get to face No. 2 Summit at 1:10 p.m. Saturday in a semifinal match.

If the Buffs happen to lose on Friday, the consolation games of the sectional tournament will be played at the Madras Aquatic Center, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The state finals will be held Nov. 8-9 in Corvallis.

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