Coach says Class 4A could be up for grabs
Madras High School boys basketball coach Allen Hair came away from the SCTC Stayton Holiday Classic convinced there is as much parity in Class 4A basketball as there has ever been during his coaching career.
Hairs team finished the tournament in third, knocking off both Tillamook and Sweet Home during play, and afterward Hair said it could be one wild ride for everyone in 4A come playoff time.
Theres usually a group of 5-6 teams you want to stay away from in the playoffs, but I just dont think theres an elite group this year, Hair said. I wouldnt be surprised if two or three of the road playoff teams get in to the tournament.
La Grande, who won the tournament after beating Central 59-54 in the final, topped the Buffs 70-63 in the semifinals and Madras was in all the way to the end.
A third-quarter surge by the Tigers turned a 1-point Madras halftime lead into a four-point La Grande lead by the end of the frame. La Grande outscored Madras 38-30 in the second half
We lost a little bit of our composure in the third quarter and got away from what we were doing, Hair said. We werent as disciplined on defense as much as I would have liked us to be; 63 points should be plenty enough to win a ballgame.
A 25-22 fourth quarter from the teams certainly showcased their offensive abilities, and Hair said if the Buffs could have gotten a couple more stops, it might have been the Buffs taking on Central for the title on Saturday instead of La Grande.
You have to tip your cap to La Grande; they played well, Hair said. We played them fairly even in the fourth quarter.
Point guard Jered Pichette poured in 26 points in Fridays loss, and Devon Wolfe scored 18 points for the Buffs.
On Saturday, Madras dispatched a short-handed Sweet Home team 58-45 behind a monster game by Pichette.
Pichette was the only Buff to score in double figures, but he put up 30 on the Huskies and they didnt have an answer for him with just seven guys in uniform.
Sweet Home gave Madras some problems early, Hair said, but after the Buffs switched to a zone defense to discourage dribble penetration, Sweet Home didnt have much success.
We closed out on their shooters well out of the zone, Hair said. We did a nice job challenging and contesting shots.
A bit of a bugaboo for the Buffs this season has been rebounding, but Hair said a more focused effort to hitting the defensive glass recently has been paying off.
Were making a concerted effort to get defensive rebounds, and it has shown up in our last few games, Hair said. We simply have to do better there, and I think we have been.
In Thursdays opening game against Tillamook, the Buffs had to fend off a feisty Cheesemakers squad that made a big run stretched from the second and third periods to briefly take a lead.
Solid foul shooting by the Buffs, especially in the fourth quarter, helped secure the win. The Buffs shot 8 for 9 from the line in the final quarter, and 18 for 23 for the game.
Anytime you shoot free throws that well, especially in the fourth, youre always going to have a chance to win a game, Hair said.
It looked like the Buffs were going to pound the Cheesemakers, after Madras ripped off a 16-0 run to take a 26-13 lead in the second, but Tillamook wasnt going to call it quits.
We got back to playing Madras basketball, flying around and getting after it, Hair said. When push came to shove in the second half, we were able to get turnovers and force some bad shots.
Pichette and Wolfe each scored 18 against Tillamook, and Austin Rauschenburg had 12 to lead the Buffs to the win.
We did a lot of good thing this weekend, Hair said. The energy and effort was there, and we had some guys step up and score when we needed it.
Madras isnt scheduled to play until Jan. 10, when they host Cottage Grove, so Hair is going to give the team a few days off so they can spend it with their families.
Its a well-deserved rest for the guys; weve been going nonstop since Nov. 19 when we could start practicing, Hair said. But Im looking forward to have four full days of practice with them. We are going to have plenty of opportunities to get better.