The Buffs’ do-it-all star
By Grant Lucas
MADRAS — Lynden Harry remembers that she was not allowed to act like a kid at Madras High games.
While other children her age would run around the halls of the high school, young Lynden would be sitting next to her dad in the stands, watching the White Buffaloes girls play basketball. He would point out the game’s nuances while offering suggestions and advice for improvement. While she might have preferred hanging out with her peers, Lynden did get to watch and study the likes of former Madras all-state greats Abby Scott and Mariah Stacona, among others.
Harry was never the scorer growing up. Maybe it was her size (even now she stands just 5 feet 5 inches tall); maybe it was a lack of confidence. Yet she was everywhere on the floor: hounding opponents defensively, deflecting passes, scraping for rebounds, dishing out assists. She was a student of the game, from those White Buffaloes contests to college and even pro games she would watch on TV. Prior to last season, after Stacona graduated as a three-time all-state guard and two-time Tri-Valley Conference player of the year, the Buffs needed someone to step up.
Then only a sophomore, Harry took control — and she has not given it up.
“I knew that I could do it,” Harry, now a junior guard, recalls.
“I knew she’d be successful,” says fourth-year Madras coach Zach Lillebo, who taught at Jefferson County Middle School as Harry and her classmates came through. “I knew what was coming into the (high school) program, no doubt about it. For me, it was a matter of if they would be able to adjust to the varsity level as freshmen.
“Lynden came out and proved it within one or two nights.”
Those father-daughter study sessions from the stands in the Madras High gym have paid dividends, Harry says. Her vision of the court has expanded, her instincts have been sharpened, and all those years of focusing on defense and rebounding have helped make her a more complete player. Oh, and she has developed some serious offensive game. Since taking over as the floor leader of the White Buffaloes going into the 2015-16 campaign, Harry, an all-state player last season and the TVC co-player of the year, has been the Buffs’ top scorer in 30 of 41 games.
“Still, I’m amazed,” laughs Madras junior guard Kaliyah Iverson, who has played with Harry for most of their lives. “She’s grown so much. It’s crazy, from where we started, we didn’t know anything about the game. Now, look at what she’s doing. It’s crazy all the stuff that she’s accomplished.”
Last season, the Harry-led White Buffaloes won the TVC for the first time since the 2011-12 season en route to an appearance at the Class 4A state tournament. With five league games remaining this season, Harry has helped Madras (11-4 overall, 4-1 TVC) to a tie atop the league standings with Gladstone and Molalla. She has done it all for Madras during her high school career, and her all-around talents were never more evident than in a win last week over Corbett in which she scored 32 points, booked seven assists, made five steals and pulled down 12 rebounds — yet another game that the 5-5 Harry led the Buffs in rebounding.
“Growing up, I wasn’t the scorer,” Harry says. “I was always getting either assists or rebounds or whatever. Everything I’ve been doing since I was a kid has become a part of my high school game. I know I don’t have to be the scorer or the top scorer. I mean, I can score. But, like, against Estacada (a 59-40 win on Jan. 20), I only had seven points; but I had all these other (stats) behind it. I just think all the little things are a big part of the game.”
There is little doubt that Harry can score on any given night. During a three-game stretch last season, she accounted for 82 of her team’s 164 points. Yet Harry takes more pride in her defensive and rebounding abilities. After all, Harry is hardly an intimidating presence. Some nights, she says, her size is a motivator to elevate her game even more, to load her energy before springing for a rebound over a towering opponent or to hassle ballhandlers before poking away a dribble or intercepting a pass.
“She goes out and does what’s necessary for our team to win,” Lillebo says. “She cares more about that scoreboard than she does about individual stats.”
“I know that I’m not the only scorer on this team,” Harry adds. “I know how to create for them to score, because, honestly, I don’t care if I score all the points or whatever. Sometimes, once (opponents) forget about me, I’m the next one scoring. There’s always opportunities that I create and opportunities that I can take.”
As a result, the White Buffaloes are on the brink of a second straight conference championship and poised to make yet another appearance in the state tournament — courtesy of the Harry effect.
“I think it makes us a lot more confident, especially because, I think, she’s a key player on our team,” Iverson says. “When she’s on the court, we all feel better and are more confident about winning. When she’s on the floor, everyone’s more calm. We have someone who can control the game.”