The Baker boys basketball team left Vale Tuesday evening, June 1, with a 73-66 win in a hard-fought game against the Vikings.
Baker (2-1) won its second straight after opening the season with a loss at La Grande.
It was the first loss for Vale (3-1), which started the season with three wins, against Ontario, Nyssa and Burns, by an average of 28 points.
On Tuesday, Vale led Baker 33-32 at halftime.
Baker coach Jebron Jones said the Bulldogs in the first two quarters weren’t playing the unselfish brand of basketball he prefers.
“We weren’t making the extra pass, taking ill-advised shots, just trying to do way too much,” Jones said.
During halftime, he stressed to the Bulldogs that playing together was the only way they could turn the game back in their favor.
“That’s the most important thing, because I think that some young people think they have to do it by themselves, but there are five dudes on the court for a reason,” Jones said.
The Bulldogs responded, scoring 41 points in the second half.
Senior Gabe Gambleton led Baker with 20 points, and a pair of freshmen, Hudson Spike (17 points) and Paul Hobson (11) combined for 28.
“I think the key to our success is balanced scoring. It was a lot more balanced in the second half, that’s what it’s going to take to win some games, to stay balanced and consistent,” Jones said.
Baker pushed its lead to as much as 20 points in the second half, but the Vikings, led by junior Tanner Steele’s game-high 27 points, rallied before the Bulldogs put the game away.
Jones said he hopes Baker’s strong second-half performance will carry over into future games.
“I hope they like that feeling, just be unselfish, play together and good things will happen,” Jones said.
Baker will have a couple chances to fulfill the coach’s wishes this week, playing host to Powder Valley Wednesday night and to Ontario this evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Baker gym.
Results from those games will be published in the Saturday, June 5 issue of the Baker City Herald.