Baker boys basketball

Baker's Jamisun Rigueiro, left, and Spencer Shirtcliff battle for a loose ball Friday night with La Grande's Zach Wiggins.

If you wanted to gauge the intensity of Friday night’s boys basketball

game between Baker and La Grande in the Baker gym, all you had to do

was listen.

Or perhaps hold a hand to a bleacher seat, the way a person grips a

steel rail to detect the thrum of an approaching train.

With the game in the balance for much of the fourth quarter, Bulldog

and Tiger fans exchanged a series of thunderous roars that echoed

through the gym and vibrated the plastic seats.

None was louder than when La Grande’s Zach Wiggins was called for an

intentional foul after he collided with Baker’s Caden Long as Long

flew in for a layin attempt with 3:19 left and Baker leading 44-40.

Tiger fans were displeased with this ruling.

And the sequence was important.

Long made 1 of 2 free throws and Baker retained possession due to the

intentional foul.

Riley Flanagan then drew a foul and made both free throws to push

Baker’s lead to 47-40 with 3:10 left.

The Bulldogs forced stops on two straight La Grande’s possession, and

Gabe Gambleton hit a jumper in the lane to give Baker its biggest lead

at 49-40 with 2:10 remaining.

The Tigers didn’t get closer than 6 points after that.

By avenging its 56-52 loss at La Grande on Jan. 10, Baker is now tied

with the Tigers atop the GOL standings at 3-1.

The battle between the Greater Oregon League’s top two teams was

frequently rough and intense, with two technical fouls in addition to

the intentional foul.

Flanagan drew a technical late in the third quarter, and La Grande’s

Lukas Schelin was whistled for one in the fourth period.

“It was a great, hard-fought rivalry game,” Baker coach Jebron Jones

said. “We were fortunate to come out on the winning side this time.

Being 40 minutes away a lot of these kids grew up playing against each

other.”

“It was kind of a grinder of a game,” La Grande head coach Mark

Carollo said. “Neither team shot the ball very well.

“I was happy with the way we battled in a hostile environment. It was

a tough one for us tonight.”

Jones and Carollo are well-acquainted. Jones was on the coaching staff

at Eastern Oregon University when Carollo, from Hermiston, was an

all-American player for the Mountaineers in the mid 2000s. Carollo

holds many individual records for EOU.

After La Grande took a 4-2 lead early, Baker scored 9 straight points

and led 11-6 after one quarter.

La Grande answered with a 7-0 run early in the second quarter,

punctuated by Schelin’s rebound basket that tied the score at 13 with

5:42 left in the first half.

After a 5-0 Baker run, Schelin’s three-pointer trimmed the Bulldogs’

lead to 18-16.

But Justin Jenner picked up his fourth foul with 3 minutes left in the

half and Baker went on an 8-2 run. Kaleb Myer’s three-pointer in the

final minute cut the Bulldogs’ halftime lead to 28-21.

Baker extended its lead to 37-27 on consecutive layins by Flanagan and

Gambleton. But La Grande ended the third quarter with a 7-0 run,

capped by Cristian Mendoza’s three-pointer that trimmed Baker’s lead

to 37-34 entering the fourth quarter.

The Tigers got as close as 42-40 on Schelin’s inside basket with 5:30

left, but he then drew the technical foul and Gambleton made both free

throws.

Baker had one of its best defensive rebounding games of the season,

denying La Grande many second chance opportunities.

The Tigers’ only rebound basket was by Wiggins in the final minute of the game.

“We did a great job on the boards,” Jones said. “We try to limit teams

to one shot. All year long we’ve been emphasizing boxing out.”

“Baker definitely outhustled us on rebounds and 50-50 balls,” Carollo

said. “We took a lot of rushed shots and when you do that, guys aren’t

always in ideal rebounding position.”

Baker had a major advantage at the free throw line, making 22 of 33

compared with La Grande’s 11 of 18.

The Tigers had only one player in double figures — Myer with 11 — but

eight players scored at least 2 points. Schelin added 9 points and

Nick DuVernay and Mendoza had 7 each.

Baker had three players in double figures, led by Long’s game-high 15

(including 9 free throws), Flanagan with 13 and Gambleton with 11.

LA GRANDE (47)

Myer 4 2-3 11, Jenner 0 2-2 2, DuVernay 2 3-5 7, Schelin 4 0-0 9,

Wiggins 1 2-4 4, Mendoza 2 2-4 7, Bell 1 0-0 2, Hutchins 2 0-0 5.

Totals 16 11-18 47.

BAKER (53)

Gambleton 4 3-4 11, Flanagan 4 5-7 13, Robb 0 0-0 0, Riguerio 2 1-4 6,

Wright 0 0-0 0, Shirtcliff 0 0-0 0, Long 3 9-12 15, Van Arsdall 0 2-2

2, Smith 2 2-4 6. Totals 15 22-33 53.

La Grande 6 15 13 13 — 47

Baker 11 17 9 16 — 53

Three-point baskets — Myer, Schelin, Mendoza, Hutchins, Rigueiro.

Total fouls — La Grande 24, Baker 19. Technical foul — Schelin,

Flanagan.

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