>White Buffalos retain league lead

   Sports Editor
   Seniors Jeff Barnes and Jacoby Ellsbury sparked the Madras boys basketball White Buffalos down the stretch in their Friday Tri-Valley League game against La Salle. Strongly aided by sophomore Dominique Easterling's rebounding, Madras recovered from a 39-33 defecit with under six minutes left in the game to pull out a 47-43 win.
   Winning improved Madras to 3-0 in Tri-Valley League action headed into a Tuesday, Jan. 15, game at Estacada. That game is the Buffs only league game of this week. Due to the seven-team format in the Tri-Valley League, each squad has a bye built into its league schedule once each round. For Madras it means a non-league is being played Friday, at Molalla, as a tuneup for hosting Wilsonville on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The game with Wilsonville and one at Valley Catholic, Jan. 25, will wrap up the first round of league games for Madras, before starting the league's second round at The Dalles.
   Barnes connected on a three-point basket attempt that cut La Salle's 39-33 lead in half during Friday's fourth quarter, just moments before Ellsbury made a steal and drove to a basket. Those baskets were added to by plenty of key steals and assists from teammates such as Lucas Conway along with rebounds by Tim Kirsch and Easterling. Despite all the contributions, Madras' box score featured only six scorers.
   Ellsbury sliced through the Falcon forces with nearly as much zest as he showed earlier in the week, during an even more comfortable win at Sherwood. Scoring 20 points against La Salle added to another 26 Ellsbury had posted in the Buffs' 84-59 shellacing of Sherwood.
   At home against La Salle the Buffs had a much tougher battle as they held off the Falcons' threats.
   While Nick Phillips provided 16 of the 43 LaSalle points, the rest of the team distributed the rest more evenly. Jeff Zwick had two, Jamile Berry three, Io Eltagonde nine and A.J. Niebergall four more.
   The LaSalle points were countered by a fuller arsenal from the Madras roster as the 20 for Ellsbury were added to by Easterling's dozen plus five from Barnes and four each from both Kirsch and Joey McConnell. The other points came on a Jesse Davis basket.
   Each Madras player contributed somehow for the team said Buff coach Evan Brown.
   "The only thing we talked about at halftime was getting good pressure on the ball so we could start creating some turnovers and get out and run," Brown said. He explained that it proved frustrating to try to push the ball at times, as La Salle was sitting back and waiting, but that the Buff guards and others snuck into the passing lanes the Falcons were trying to use. Such plays created the chances that were finally converted in the closing moments by Ellsbury and others for Madras.
   After flashing to a layup that left Madras leading with just under a minute left, Ellsbury migrated to a long rebound of a miss by LaSalle and drew a foul with 16 seconds that gave him two shots to secure a lead of at least a basket with a tenuous lead of 44-43 then in Madras' possession. He made both free throws to set up a last-gasp attempt at a tieing shot by LaSalle. When the shot fell short, Madras could celebrate again.
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