By Gerry Steele
The young Baker boys basketball team fought tooth and nail with La Grande Friday before falling 55-50 in a Greater Oregon League contest at La Grande.
The game saw 18 lead changes and 10 ties before La Gande pulled away in the final two minutes.
"It was a great high school basketball game," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.
"Obviously we would have liked to have the W, but I have nothing but accolades for my guys.
"We showed that we're growing as a basketball team," Richardson said.
"This team is wired to compete. We could have folded but that's not the way these kids are wired."
Richardson shook up his starting lineup, inserting sophomore Logan Sand into Clay LeaMaster's slot.
Sand responded with 13 points. LeaMaster added 11 coming off the bench.
"Logan Sand responded well," Richardson said. "And, Clay LeaMaster did a great job off the bench."
The teams traded the lead eight times in the first quarter that ended with La Grande up 17-16.
Sand scored seven points in the period, and Kyle Srack six for the Bulldogs.
The lead changed hands eight more times in the second quarter with La Grande pulling ahead 33-31 at halftime.
The largest lead by either team was four points, by Baker midway through the first quarter.
Mason Cline then scored seven of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter as Baker pulled back into a 43-43 tie entering the final eight minutes.
The lead continued to seesaw early in the fourth period until Baker took its final lead, 50-49, on a pair of Cline free throws with 2:09 left in the game.
La Grande then scored the final six points of the game, four from the free throw line.
Baker sits 1-4 in the GOL. The Bulldogs must defeat Mac-Hi Friday at Milton-Freewater to earn the right to host the Pioneers Feb. 18 in the first round of the GOL district playoffs.
Hayes 0 2-3 2, Scott 1 0-0 2, LeaMaster 4 0-0 11, Cline 5 5-7 15, Sand 4 4-4 13, Srack 3 1-3 7. Totals 17 12-17 50.
LA GRANDE (55) -
Dall 4 3-3 11, Yohannan, Boyd 3 0-0 9, Wicklander 6 9-12 22, Cederholm 0 2-2 2, Williams 4 0-1 9, Powell 0 2-2 2, Kevan. Totals 17 16-20 55.
Baker -16 15 12 7 - 50
La Grande -17 16 10 12 - 55
Three-point baskets - LeaMaster 3, Sand, Boyd 3, Wicklander, Williams. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Baker 17, La Grande 12. Technicals - none.