Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele

Baker's "Road Warriors" opens play in the first round of the Class 4A boys basketball tournament Friday at Philomath.

The Bulldogs (15-8) enter the tournament as the Greater Oregon League champion. Baker has to travel for its opener despite being a league champion because only the Top 16 in the Oregon School Activities Association RPI rankings host their first game. Baker finished 17th in the rankings.

Philomath (16-5) finished second in the Oregon West Conference.

"I like our matchup," said Baker coach Joel Richardson.

Richardson said from what he had been able to find out about the Warriors two of their key players are 6-foot senior guard Derek Nash and 6-3 junior guard Ben DeSaulnier.

"They like to push tempo and like to shoot the 3's," Richardson said.

"They're a man defense team if they don't think you have any shooters. I guess we'll just have to show them what kind of shooters we have. We just have to go down there and do what we're capable of doing and we'll be OK."

The Baker coach said having to travel for their opener doesn't matter to the Bulldogs.

"Making the trip is fine," he said. "We want to go to Corvallis for the main tournament, so we're just going a week earlier."

The winner of Friday's game advances to Gill Coliseum on the Oregon State University campus for the tournament that begins March 5.

Friday's tipoff is tentatively set for 7 p.m.