Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

MURPHY - Baker controlled play for almost 30 of 32 minutes Friday against Hidden Valley. But it was those other two minutes that spelled doom for the Bulldogs.

Hidden Valley overcame a 6-point Baker lead in the final 2:38 to beat the Bulldogs 53-50 in the second round of the Class 4A state boys basketball playoffs. The loss ended Baker's season at 18-8.

"We defended them really well except for about three possessions," said Baker coach Craig Woods.

It was those three possessions where Hidden Valley did its damage.

Baker led 48-42, but Hidden Valley's Jacob Longo hit a three-pointer with about two minutes left. Taylor Bars then added two more treys to give the Mustangs a 51-50 lead with less than a minute remaining.

Longo then added another basket for a 53-50 edge with 26 seconds left.

After a Baker timeout, Derek Blankenship's three-point attempt was off the mark, but Baker retained possession with 11 seconds left. After another timeout another Blankenship three-point try from the tip of the key came up short and Hidden Valley rebounded.

Baker fouled Brian Mahuna with six seconds left. Mahuna missed the free throw and Baker rebounded. But Walker Kaseberg's three-point try from near mid-court was wide ending Baker's season.

"It's tough to lead the entire game and then lose it in the final two minutes," Woods said.

"They were taller than we were, but our kids played the way they have all season, and held their own. Our kids did what they needed to do."

Behind seven points from Jesse Brown, and a pair of three-pointers from Blankenship, the Bulldogs forged a 19-11 lead after one period.

Hidden Valley answered to start the second quarter, opening with a 9-0 run, to take a 20-19 edge.

Then two baskets by Dekker Smith, another three-pointer by Blankenship, and a basket by Kennan Richards helped Baker take a 28-27 lead into the halftime locker room.

Baker opened the third period on an 8-1 run to build its lead to 36-28 with 5:34 left in the period. Kaseberg scored four of the points. Smith and Blankenship each added a basket.

Baskets by Blankenship and Brown, sandwiched around a Longo three-point play, gave Baker a 40-33 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

Blankenship finished the game with 15 points. Brown added 11 points and five rebounds, Smith 10 points and seven rebounds, Kaseberg eight rebounds, and Richards six rebounds.

Unofficially, Baker outrebounded the taller Mustangs 30-28. Baker also had four blocked shots to six for Hidden Valley.

"It was a good game," Woods said.

"I can't be prouder of the kids. They played their hearts out. It's not the way we wanted to go out for our seniors. But hopefully the learning experience will be good for our younger kids, and they'll be back hungrier next year."

Baker 19 9 12 10 - 50

Hidden Valley 11 16 6 20 - 53

Baker (50) - Kaseberg 2 2-2 6, Brown 5 1-1 11, Richards 3 0-2 6, Smith 5 0-0 10, Richardson 1 0-0 2, Quintana, Blankenship 6 0-0 15. Totals 22 3-5 50.

Hidden Valley (53) - Gotfried, Armanino 4 0-1 10, Frey 0 2-2 2, Mahuna 4 2-3 11, Longo 5 1-1 12, Suthann 1 1-2 3, Bars 2 0-0 6, Kruass 1 0-0 2, Maynard 3 1-2 7. Totals 20 7-11 53.

Three-point goals - Blankenship 3, Armanino 2, Mahuna, Longo, Bars 2. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Baker 12, Hidden Valley 10. Technicals - none.