FOREST GROVE — In a matchup between the OSAA’s top-two Class 4A teams, the No. 1 ranked Baker Bulldogs proved that the rankings were accurate as they claimed the state championship with a 60-56 win over the No. 2 ranked Gladstone Gladiators in a thriller Saturday night, March 11 at Forest Grove High School.
Senior Jozie Ramos capped her award-winning career by scoring a game-high 28 points, including four free throws in the final 4 seconds.
Ramos also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots to lead Baker (25-2) to its second girls state title.
The Bulldogs, with Jozie’s older sister, Jayme Ramos, as a starter, won the 2019 title.
“It’s so awesome to win the championship and we’ve done so much work to get this,” said Jozie Ramos, who will continue her basketball career in college as she earned a scholarship to play for Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls. “We’ve been talking about this for multiple years and it feels great. We set this as our goal at the beginning of the season and it’s just awesome to see us reach it.”
Her dad, Jason Ramos, in his second year as Baker’s coach, said he was “proud of how well the girls played in every game in the tournament.”
The Bulldogs beat Madras 50-33 in a quarterfinal on Thursday, March 9, and Marshfield 45-27 in the semifinal round on Friday, March 10.
“From the very beginning of the tournament, they just came out and played their brand of basketball,” Jason Ramos said. “They were very loose, well focused and driven, which is what you would expect from a veteran group with senior leadership.”
Saturday’s championship game was a rematch of a Dec. 14 game that was scheduled after Baker had four home games canceled due to weather.
The Bulldogs and Gladiators played in an unusual neutral court game, scheduled just two days earlier, before just a few dozen fans at Stanfield.
Baker won 39-37, holding off a furious Gladstone rally after leading the Gladiators 35-23 in the fourth quarter.
In the rematch for the state championship, Ramos scored four quick points on a basket and two free throws to give Baker a 4-2 lead.
Gladstone, the Tri-Valley Conference Champion, scored four straight points to take its first — and only — lead at 6-4 with 3:55 left in the first quarter.
Baker responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a Ramos three-point play, putting the Bulldogs ahead 11-6.
“We went out there and executed and played great defense against a really good Gladstone team,” Jason Ramos said. “They executed the game plan very well and nothing fazed them. I’m so proud of them and I’m so happy for them because they put in lots of hard work to win the championship. Jozie had a great game. She kind of showed what she can do and she needed to do that.”
Led by senior guard Hanne Hopkins, who scored a team-high 23 points, Gladstone responded with a 5-0 run to knot it 11-11 and it was tied 13-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The evenly played contest had numerous shifts of momentum. A 6-0 Baker run that included two Ramos jumpers in the lane and two free throws by senior guard Brooklyn Jaca, put the Bulldogs up 19-13.
The Bulldogs extended their advantage to 26-17 after a three-point field goal from the top of the arc by senior Macey Moore, who finished with 16 points, and a lay in on a fast break by Emma Llaurado.
The resilient Gladiators continued to fight back, though, using an 8-0 run to trim Baker’s lead to 26-25.
Ramos fired in a jumper in the lane to give Baker a 28-25 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs utilized their height advantage as Ramos (6-foot), senior forward Rylee Elms (6-1) and Jaca (5-11) combined for 19 of Baker’s 35 rebounds as the Bulldogs had a 35-24 advantage on the glass.
Ramos was nearly unstoppable in the paint with her spin moves around shorter defenders and she helped fuel the Bulldogs offense in the third, as they outscored the Gladiators 15-11 to take a 43-36 lead after three.
The Bulldogs appeared to take control of the game in the fourth as they built a 10-point margin several times, including a 50-40 lead on a 10-foot jumper in the lane by Elms with 3:21 left in the contest.
The tough Gladiators never gave up, though, and they responded with a 12-2 run, knotting it 52-52 with 1:39 left on Sam Jedrykowski’s 3-pointer.
The game was reminiscent of the first battle between the teams at Stanfield, when Gladstone nearly rallied from a 12-point deficit.
But with the first-place trophy at stake Saturday, the Bulldogs again answered the challenge, making eight of 10 free throws.
Ramos made the first two after drawing a foul while driving to the basket for a shot with 1:29 left.
She made both free throws to give Baker a 54-52 lead, then blocked Jedrykowski’s shot on the other end and grabbed the rebound with 1:07 remaining.
Gladstone was forced to foul. Moore made one of two free throws with 54 seconds left. Senior Sydnee Pierce made two free throws with 31 seconds to boost Baker’s lead to 57-52, and after Gladstone’s Emersyn Stepp made a lay in to make it 57-54, Ramos made one of two free throws with four seconds left.
The game ended on a somewhat controversial note. With Baker leading 58-54 after Ramos’ free throw, Gladstone’s Hanne Hopkins was fouled on a 3-point shot with three-tenths of a second left.
She made the first two shots to make it 58-56, and intentionally missed the third to give her teammates a chance for a putback, the only way the Gladiators could tie it. Gladstone’s Stepp rebounded the ball and made a shot, but the referees determined that the free throw didn’t hit the rim, giving the ball to Baker. Ramos was fouled at the buzzer and she made both free throws for the final margin.
Gladstone coach Glenn Hopkins argued that the final free throw did hit the rim and that the shot should have counted, which would have tied the game at 58 and forced overtime.
It appeared that the ball hit the rim support but not the rim, bouncing straight down where Stepp grabbed it.
With just three-tenths of a second left, though, a player has only enough time to tap the ball rather than grab the ball and take a regular shot, as Stepp did.
Baker inbounded to Ramos, who was fouled. She made both free throws — the final two points in a career when she tallied more than 1,400 points — for the final margin in her last game as a Bulldog.
“It’s all about runs from both teams and it just depends on how you react to the other team and make adjustments, because it’s a mental game too,” Jozie Ramos said. “You have to stay in the game and not let them get in your head and just stay calm and we did that. We came into the game with a lot of emotions because it was our last game and we knew what we had to do to get the win.”
With the clutch free throws in the final minute, Baker ended up 20 for 29 from the line, giving the Bulldogs a major advantage over Gladstone, which was 13 for 24.
Baker had one of its best offensive games of the season, making 19 of 33 shots, 58%. Gladstone, meanwhile, was 19 of 48, for 40%.
After Ramos made her final free throw, the Bulldogs gathered on the court for a wild celebration with players yelling, screaming, jumping up and down and doing a dogpile on the court. It was an emotional scene for Baker players and fans with many of them shedding tears of joy while hugging each other.
Ramos and Moore, both of whom played the entire 32 minutes of the title game, were named to the all-tournament first team, Ramos by unanimous vote.
“At the beginning of the season, we talked about our fourth place finish last year and we talked about our realistic goals for this group with all the kids coming back,” Jason Ramos said. “This was one of our goals. We had other things on our checklist too that we wanted to accomplish. Ultimately, this is the one at the end that was still out there and we got it done.”
Prior to the contest, Baker High cheerleaders Jillian Poe, Evan Rexroad and Ryann Paulsen sang the National Anthem, something they’ve done several times in the Baker gym this season.
Latch 2 1-2 5, Jackal 2 0-0 5, Jedrykowski 3 0-0 8, Grim 1 2-2 5, Hopkins 8 7-12 23, Stepp 2 3-8 7, Koller 0 0-0 0, Monte 1 0-0 3, Gunderson 0 0-0 0, Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 13-24 56.
Elms 3 0-0 6, Ramos 8 12-15 28, Pierce 0 2-4 2, Jaca 1 2-4 4, Moore 5 4-6 16, Dalton 1 0-0 2, Llaurado 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 20-29 60.
Gladstone 13 12 11 20 — 56
Baker 13 15 15 17 — 60
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