By Gerry Steele
It wasn't the prettiest basketball game, but Baker managed to overcome its own miscues to hand La Grande a 70-59 loss in Greater Oregon League boys basketball action Friday at BHS.
Baker led by as many as 22 points in the first half, but let La Grande claw back to within five points late in the third quarter.
Baker (7-3 overall and 2-0 in the GOL) then got back on track and pulled away.
"We came out lackadazical in the second half," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.
"We were not pleased with the way we played defense."
Baker also battled foul trouble throughout the game with three starters on the bench at various stretches with four fouls.
"We got ourselves in foul trouble and that hurts," Richardson said. "On the other hand, it may have been a blessing in disguise allowing some of our other guys to come in and do the job."
Senior Dillon Blankenship was a one-man offensive wrecking crew in the first. Blankenship scored 27 of his game-high 36 points in the opening 16 minutes, including 18 in the second quarter.
Behind Blankenship's scoring, Baker constructed a 39-17 lead with about two minutes remaining in the first half.
Then La Grande wet on a 11-3 run to end the half trailing 42-28.
La Grande then opened the second half on a 9-2 to run to complete a 20-5 spurt that cut Baker's lead to 44-37 midway through the third quarter.
Baker still led 48-43 with two minutes left in the period before going on a spurt of its own.
The Bulldogs scored the final seven points of the quarter, including a follow-up layin by Dane Bachman at the buzzer to lead 55-43 entering the fourth quarter.
A basket by Grayson Swiger and a three-pointer by Mason Cline completed a 12-0 Baker run two minutes into the final quarter.
La Grande never got closer than nine points after that.
Braden Phillips led Baker rebounders with 13 boards. Bachman added nine, and Blankenship five.
Cline scored in double figures with 10 points.
Baker has now won 20 consecutive GOL games in 2-plus years. The Bulldogs will try to continue that streak Friday when they host Mac-Hi.
LA GRANDE (59)
Wicklander 2 0-0 4, Cederholm 0 2-2 2, Williams 2 2-2 7, White 4 0-0 9, Dall 6 8-9 24, Powell 2 0-0 4, March, Bodfish 3 1-2 7, Boyd 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 13-15 59.
BAKER (70) -
Blankenship 9 15-17 36, Hamilton 1 0-0 2, Bachman 3 2-2 8, Taylor, Baxter 2 0-0 4, Cline 3 1-2 10, Phillips 2 2-2 6, Bruce, Swiger 2 0-0 4. Totals 22 20-23 70.
La Grande -13 15 15 16 - 59
Baker -20 22 13 15 - 70
Three-point baskets - Williams, White, Dall 4, Blankenship 3, Cline 3. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - La Grande 21, Baker 20. Technicals - Wicklander.