Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele


That's what was missing for the flu-riddled Baker boys basketball team Saturday against Fruitland.

The Bulldogs had just five healthy varsity players Saturday in a 64-52 nonleague loss to the Grizzlies on the Baker floor.

Baker started a lineup of Braden Phillips, Trent Taylor, Grayson Swiger, Mason Cline and Ben Baxter.

The five reserves all had played extended minutes in the junior varsity game prior to the varsity game.

"It comes down to consistency," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.

"We didn't have any. We just didn't have much offensive continuity."

Richardson said the Bulldogs had few "quality possessions."

"We had some, but not very many," he said.

"And we weren't getting back on transition on defense.

"The difference in the game was that they had more possessions off our turnovers," Richardson said.

Baker finished the game with 24 turnover, double what the Bulldogs committed a night earlier against Mac-Hi.

"We scrapped," Richardson said. "We played every minute for what it was worth."

Baker fell behind 17-7 after one quarter, and was that close only because Baxter hit a three-point basket from three-quarter court as the buzzer sounded.

Fruitland added to its cushion in the second quarter, leading 33-17 at halftime. Baker had 13 of its turnovers at that point.

Fruitland reached its largest lead, 23 points, midway through the third quarter.

Baker then found some life in the fourth quarter.

Phillips, who had been limited to just nine points through three periods, lit the scoreboard for 14 of his team-high 23 points in the final eight minutes.

Baker managed to cut the deficit to nine points, 60-51, with about a minute left in the game.

But, a couple more turnovers, and Fruitland free throws salted the game away.

Baker has its own destiny in its hands this week. The Bulldogs host Ontario Tuesday then travel to La Grande Friday in Greater Oregon League action.

"We have a big week this week," Richardson said.

"A couple of wins and we could sew up the league title."

Richardson wasn't sure whether or not the ailing Bulldogs would be back for either or both games.

"It is what it is," he said. "We hope to have them back, but we'll play with what we have, and do what we have to do."


Nattress 7 3-6 17, Huff 0 1-2 1, Graves 6 1-2 14, Seamons 0 2-2 2, Mahler 1 0-0 2, Shipp 0 0-3 0, Eiguren 2 0-0 4, Van Patten, Little 2 2-2 6, Stanger 4 0-0 8, Rhinehart 3 4-4 10. Totals 25 13-21 64.

BAKER (52) -

Hamilton 2 5-6 9, Hayes, Taylor 2 0-0 4, Baxter 1 3-4 6, LeaMaster, Cline 2 4-6 8, Phillips 5 10-11 23, Swiger 1 0-2 2. Totals 13 22-29 52.

Fruitland -17 16 16 15 - 64

Baker - 7 10 14 21 - 52

Three-point baskets - Graves, Baxter, Phillips 3. Fouled out - Eiguren. Total fouls - Fruitland 19, Baker 16. Technicals - none.