By Gerry Steele
Dane Bachman broke away from the pack on his way to his second slam dunk late in the fourth quarter against La Grande Friday.
Bachman's slam put the final exclamation point on the Bulldogs' come-from-behind 76-53 thumping of La Grande in the Greater Oregon League boys basketball game at BHS.
"Once again that was fun basketball," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.
La Grande made it a little more fun than Baker might have liked for a while.
La Grande led 16-15 after one period, and the teams were tied 30-30 at halftime.
The game was still knotted 41-41 with 3:54 left in the third period.
Baker then finished the quarter on a 9-1 run that broke the game open.
During that stretch Trent Taylor, Dillon Blankenship and Mason Cline each hit a basket. Bachman added a three-pointer with 15 seconds left to propel the Bulldogs into the final eight minutes with a 50-42 cushion.
Baker then outscored La Grande 26-11 in the fourth quarter, capped by Bachman's slam.
"I asked the kids to do a better job on defense in the second half," Richardson said.
"It's nice to see our guys playing with confidence, and sharing the basketball.
"We had tremendous balance tonight. Dane-O had a great game. He had that fire in his belly tonight," Richardson said.
"Braden (Phillips) and Mason (Cline) did a great job inside. Dillon had his usual steady game, and Ben (Baxter) ran the offense well.
"Twenty-six points in the fourth quarter. That's putting an exclamation point on this game."
Baker trailed 16-10 late in the first quarter. Cline then hit a three-point basket, and Bachman jammed home his first dunk to pull Baker within 16-15 at the break.
Then, with the scored tied 18-18 in the second quarter La Grande's John Bodfish was whistled for a technical foul.
Phillips and Blankenship each made one free throw, and Bachman added a three-pointer to give Baker a 23-18 edge with 5:30 left in the half.
Baker maintained a small lead the rest of the half before La Grande scored the final five points of the half to knot the score at 30-30 at halftime.
The teams then continued to trade baskets until the score was still tied at 41-41 and set the stage for Baker's final run.
Bachman finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Blankenship added 21 points and six rebounds.
Phillips chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds, and Cline 15 points.
Baker outrebounded the Tigers 33-18.
The GOL championship will be on the line when Baker travels to Ontario Tuesday.
Baker holds a 1-game lead over the Tigers with two games remaining in league play. A Baker win would give the Bulldogs the title. An Ontario win would leave Baker and Ontario tied for the league lead. Ontario then would own the tie-breaker with two wins over the Bulldogs.
Baker closes out its GOL season Friday at Mac-Hi.
LA GRANDE (53)
Wicklander 2 6-7 11, Cederholm 1 0-0 2, Williams 4 1-2 12, White 3 2-3 8, Dall 3 2-2 8, Powell 4 0-2 9, March, Bodfish 1 1-2 3, Boyd. Totals 18 12-18 53.
BAKER (76) -
Blankenship 5 11-14 21, Bachman 10 0-1 23, Taylor 1 0-0 2, Baxter, Cline 6 1-1 15, Phillips 5 3-5 13, Bruce 1 0-0 2, Swiger. Totals 28 15-21 76.
La Grande -16 14 12 11 - 53
Baker - 15 15 20 26 - 76
Three-point baskets - Wicklander, Williams 3, Powell, Bachman 3, Cline 2. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - La Grande 19, Baker 13. Technicals - Williams, Bodfish.