Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

Two games ago Baker was clinging to life support in the Greater Oregon League girls basketball race.

Now, two playoff wins later, the Bulldogs will battle Ontario for the GOL championship and the league's No. 1 berth in Class 4A state playoffs.

Baker advanced to the GOL title game by defeating La Grande 45-30 Thursday at La Grande. Baker will travel to Ontario Saturday for a 2 p.m. MST contest for the GOL crown.

Baker limited La Grande to one point in the first quarter, and just five in the first half.

"We really shut them down," said Baker coach Tim Smith.

"We came out in the first half and played dominating defense."

La Grande led 1-0 midway through the first quarter. Smith then inserted Ashley Trees into the game, and it woke Baker's offense. Or, at least Trees was hot. The sophomore guard scored nine straight points to lift Baker into a 9-1 lead at the break.

"She lit it up," Smith said. "She changed the tide of the game."

Baker led 24-5 at halftime. Ironically, the same score the Baker boys led La Grande earlier in the season. La Grande rebounded to win that game. Smith said the girls decided in the halftime locker room that scenario would not repeat itself.

"We came out in the second half and got into some foul trouble," Smith said. "La Grande made their free throws and that kept them in the game."

Smith said the Tigers cut the Bulldogs' lead to nine points at one point. But, Baker rallied to hit a couple of baskets and key free throws down the stretch.

Whitney Phillips led Baker with 11 points. Trees added nine, Haley Adams eight and Tiffany Burk seven.

"The girls just played great," Smith said. "We've said all along that defense wins championships. This one was fun to watch."

Smith the Bulldogs have to continue to play as they have the past two games to defeat Ontario Saturday.

"We have to start fast on the defensive end; get some stops and make them play catch up. Like us, Ontario isn't a good catch up team.

"We need to use our defense to try to establish some momentum in the game," the Baker coach said.

Baker 9 15 11 10 - 45

La Grande 1 4 15 10 - 30

Baker (45) - Warner 2 0-2 4, Ward, Burk 3 0-0 7, Adams 3 0-3 8, Srack 1 0-3 2, Phillips 4 3-6 11, Trees 4 0-0 9, Smith 0 2-2 2, Ogan 0 2-2 2, Baxter. Totals 17 7-18 45.

La Grande (30) - Aldred 0 2-4 2, Tracy, Tsiatsos 2 2-2 8, Alexander, Brown 0 5-6 5, Mattson 0 3-6 3, Moore 1 2-2 4, Mills 1 0-0 2, Sain 1 0-0 2, Martin 1 0-0 2, Powers 1 0-0 2. Totals 7 14-20 30.

Three-point goals - Burk, Adams 2, Trees, Tsiatsos 2 Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Baker 16, La Grande 15. Technicals - none.