FOREST GROVE — The sixth-ranked Baker girls basketball team led Marshfield for nearly three quarters of the game Thursday night in the Bulldogs’ first appearance in the state tournament since 2006.
But the third-ranked Pirates from Coos Bay rallied with a scoring surge near the end of the third quarter, and Baker couldn’t recover, losing 53-35 at Forest Grove High School.
Baker (17-5), guided by second-year coach Mat Sand, dropped into the consolation bracket and played No. 7 North Marion Friday morning for a berth in the fourth-place game Saturday morning.
“The team we saw in the first half that competed hard is really the type of team that we are,” Sand said after Thursday’s loss to Marshfield (20-6). “For some reason, we came out flat in the second half and you can’t make mistakes like that in the state tournament. We just didn’t have any rhythm and we didn’t run the floor as well as we normally do. We couldn’t really run our offense effectively and we didn’t shoot very well. We’re a transition offensive team and we like to run our sets well to help us gain an advantage and that’s how we got here.”
Baker came into the eight-team tournament with the momentum of five straight wins and victories in 10 of its last 11 games. The Bulldogs were also highly regarded and considered a contender for the title since they are the highest scoring team in Class 4A, averaging 59 points per game.
The Pirates, meanwhile, were seeking revenue for last season when they lost to Baker 57-50 in a playoff game.
Marshfield’s effective matchup zone defense simply prevented the Bulldogs from getting into a good offensive rhythm, particularly in the second half, when the Pirates outscored the Bulldogs 34-12. Marshfield’s solid defense seemed to thwart Baker’s prolific offense as the Bulldogs shot just 10-for-34 (29.4 percent) from the field.
“They pressured us hard and extended their defense and they’re a good team just like everyone else here in the tournament,” Sand said. “You have to play for four quarters. When the momentum shifts like it did, then you have to adjust and continue competing well. We’re averaging almost 60 points a game, so we can put the ball in the basket. Marshfield took us out of our game, though, and that’s how they were able to win. I think we’ll bounce back and play better on Friday hopefully we’ll achieve our goal and get fourth place on Saturday.”
Baker had the momentum early against Marshfield. Guard Gracie Huggins, one of just two seniors on the Bulldog squad, fired in a three-pointer on their first offensive possession, giving Baker a 3-0 lead. An outside jumper by junior guard Desiree Davis (game-high four assists) extended Baker’s advantage to 7-3.
“I was pretty excited and I felt like we came out and played with a high energy level at the beginning of the game,” said Huggins, who scored seven points and was selected as the Moda Health Player of the Game for Baker. “We played well early in the game, but then it seemed like we came out really flat in the second half. After they kind of had an offensive run, it was hard for us to get the momentum back.”
Baker took its largest lead of the game at 11-3 when junior guard Emily Carter, who finished with eight points, connected on a three-pointer midway through the first quarter. A baseline jumper by Huggins helped the Bulldogs take a 14-10 at the end of the quarter. The teams traded baskets throughout the second with both getting nine points as Baker led 23-19 at halftime.
“We played with much more confidence early in the game than we did at the end,” Carter said. “I honestly believe that we just threw it away at the end. We made too many mistakes and we just fell apart. I’m sure they wanted revenge and they outplayed us in the second half, when we just didn’t play very well.”
Marshfield scored the first four points of the second half to quickly tie the score at 23.
Baker responded, though, led by sophomore Jayme Ramos, who fired in consecutive jumpers to give the Bulldogs the lead again at 27-23 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
Baker continued leading 28-25 on a Ramos free throw with 3:53 left on the clock.
Marshfield then took control of the game with a 13-0 run to build a 38-28 lead after three quarters. The Bulldogs couldn’t get any closer for the remainder of the game. Marshfield outscored Baker 15-7 in the fourth to extend the margin to an insurmountable 18-point lead.
“I’m really proud of the kids and all the parents and the community of Baker for coming all the way out here to support us,” Sand said. “These kids are awesome and they always play with all their heart. They’re disappointed right now, but I’m sure they’ll come back and get over a tough loss and play better on Friday.”
Baker was unable to overcome its 29 turnovers, which proved to be pivotal in helping Marshfield gain momentum in the second half.
“It sure feels good to be here for the first time in a long time and it was our goal at the beginning of the year to get to the state tournament,” Huggins said. “We didn’t have huge expectations, but we obviously wanted to play our best and we just didn’t do that. I think our team has lots of heart and we never give up. We’ll come back out Friday and play our best and hopefully win so that we can play for a trophy on Saturday, so that’s our goal now.”
Huggins 7, Davis 2, Ramos 5, Carter 8, Flanagan 4, Younger 8, Nemec 1.
MARSHFIELD (53) -
Chavez 14, Garrett 13, Miranda 2, Browning 7, Locati 7, Waldrop 2, Heyer 5, Erickson 3.
Baker 14 9 5 7 — 35
Marshfield 10 9 19 15 — 53