by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Madras forward Janae Adams grabs a rebound during the White Buffalos' 60-40 win against Molalla. MHS picking up wins they need to to stay in postseason conversation

The Madras High School girls basketball team notched a pair of wins last week to move into a second-place tie with Gladstone in the Tri-Valley Conference.

Friday night, the White Buffalos mowed through Molalla 60-40 in the Buffalo Dome behind a big night from sophomore guard Vanessa Esquivel. On Feb. 12, Madras blasted North Marion 60-38.

The wins gave the Buffs a 5-2 record in the TVC, tied for the second spot with Gladstone, and Madras has turned up the offense quite a bit over the past three games. The Buffs have averaged 62.5 points per game during the stretch, and even with the absence of Cirelle Frank on Friday due to the district swim meet, the Buffs’ offense wasn’t bothered. That was thanks to, in large part, by Esquivel’s 22-point performance.

Esquivel started out a little slow, scoring seven of her points in the first half, but she came alive in the second half to pour in 15.

“Vanessa has been working hard in practice at being aggressive, and she’s real strong for how young she is,” Madras co-coach Rory Oster said. “We want her to attack the basket, and shoot at least six free throws a game. We are a much better team with her attacking the basket.”

Esquivel shot 10 of Madras’ 19 foul shots against the Indians, on her way to her third 20-point game in TVC play.

Both teams had issues shooting the ball in the first half, and Madras took a 25-19 lead into halftime. There was a stretch of about four minutes in the first quarter in which the teams ran up and down the floor like it was an indoor track meet, but no one could put the ball in the bucket. Madras led 11-10 at the end of the opening period.

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Madras guard Leah Suppah drives to the bucket during the White Buffalos' 60-40 win against Molalla.Oster’s favorite offensive set against Molalla, which will more than likely be the bulk of their halfcourt offense against La Salle Prep and Gladstone this week, was the dribble-drive weave set. Three guards at the top run a weave pattern until a space for penetration is created, and then the guards slash to the hoop to either score themselves, or make a dump pass to a wide open post player.

The offensive scheme will serve Madras well against La Salle Prep, as proven by the first half of the first time the Buffs played them, because it usually turns into a good shot, defensive foul or an extended possession to take time off the clock.

“That’s something we’re going to run a lot of this week,” Oster said. “We need to get good shots and keep their possessions limited. If our shots aren’t there, we’ll pull it back out and make the defense work.”

The set worked very well against Molalla, but of course Molalla is not nearly the team La Salle or Gladstone is, so the Buffs will have to be playing their best to knock off either team.

Point guard Mariah Stacona pitched in 17 points for the Buffs, and Janae Adams scored 11 against Molalla.

Against North Marion, Stacona was on fire in the first quarter with four 3-pointers and 14 points. She finished the game with 23 points, and outscored North Marion by herself until late in the third period. Stacona scored 14 of Madras’ 20 points in the first frame.

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