By Gerry Steele
Baker knew going into Friday's Greater Oregon League boys basketball regular-season finale at Mac-Hi that a win would mean hosting a first-round GOL playoff game this week.
Things looked bleak for the Bulldogs three minutes into the fourth quarter when Mac-Hi built a 39-31 lead.
But, it was all Baker after that. The Bulldogs scored 10 unanswered points on the way to finishing the game on a 14-2 run and edged the Pioneers 45-41.
"We finally got a win in one of these 5-to-7-point games; finally got a win on the road," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.
"We played great defense in the second half," Richardson said.
Baker allowed Mac-Hi just 14 second-half points.
The Bulldogs now will host Mac-Hi in a loser-out game Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. in the BHS gym.
"It will be tough to play them again for the third time," Richardson said.
"You know the old cliche about how tough it is to defeat a team three times in the same season."
Friday, trailing 39-31, Mason Cline got hot.
Cline, who finished the game with 28 points and 16 rebounds, scored seven straight points to pull Baker to within 39-38.
Then, sophomore Logan Sand connected on a three-pointer from deep in the corner to give Baker a 41-39 advantage with 5:25 left in the game.
"We ran some really nice sets, working some plays for Mason," Richardson said.
"He played well while in foul trouble. Then Logan hit the big three."
Cline had picked up his fourth foul with 38 seconds left in the third period. He remained on the bench until just 6:48 remained in the game.
Mac-Hi managed to tie the game at 41-41 with 2:04 left on a pair of free throws by Jacob Podolski. Podolski's 18 points had helped Mac-Hi take its first lead of the game, 27-26, at halftime.
Following Podolski's free throws, Baker regained the lead for good on baskets by Kyle Srack and Cline.
Behind seven points from Cline, Baker built a 13-6 lead after one quarter.
Then Podolski scored 12 points in the second period to lift Mac-Hi to a 27-26 halftime edge. His basket with one second left in the half gave the Pioneers their first lead.
Neither team mounted much offense in the third quarter which ended with Mac-Hi on top 34-31.
The Pioneers then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take their largest lead.
Richardson said the defensive play of starters Logan Scot, Aiden Hayes and Sand in particular, and Taylor Gulick off the bench also sparked the Bulldogs.
The Baker coach said playing at home one more time was an incentive for the Bulldogs.
"We hope we can come out with a lot of fire Tuesday. You can throw the regular season records out the window."
Baker also won Friday's junior varsity game 66-28.
Hayes 0 1-3 1, Gulick 0 0-2 0, Scott 1 0-0 2, LeaMaster 1 2-4 4, Cline 12 4-6 28, Sand 2 0-1 5, Srack 2 1-3 5. Totals 18 8-19 45.
MAC-HI (41) -
Zaragoza 1 2-2 5, Rodriguez, Saldana 0 0-2 0, Manon, Angel 5 0-1 11, Zitterkopf, Alva 2 1-2 5, Podolski 7 4-8 18, Correa 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 7-15 41.
Baker -13 13 5 14 - 45
Mac-Hi - 6 21 7 7 - 41
Three-point baskets - Sand, Zaragoza, Angel. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Baker 16, Mac-Hi 21. Technicals - none.