Baker boys basketball

Baker’s Riley Flanagan goes to the basket against the defense of Weiser’s Ande Jensen, left, and Tim Reed. Flanagan scored 12 points to help the Bulldogs win 71-61.

Weiser was perfect for most of the first quarter but Baker was better over the last three Thursday in a nonleague boys basketball game in the Baker gym.

After spotting the hot-shooting Wolverines an early 21-12 lead, the Bulldogs clamped down defensively and executed as efficiently on offense as they have all season in running away with a 71-61 win in the first of three home games in as many nights.

Baker endured an offensive onslaught from the opening tip as Weiser made its first seven shots, including four three-pointers.

When Justin Estes converted a steal into a layin, the Wolverines led 21-12.

Weiser’s first missed field goal, Ande Jensen’s three-pointer, came with 1:58 left in the first quarter.

Gabe Gambleton, who scored a career-high 32 points, had Baker’s last four points of the quarter as the Bulldogs closed the gap to 24-18.

Baker coach Jebron Jones needed a single adjective to describe Baker’s first-quarter defense.

“Horrible.”

“They were getting wide open looks,” Jones said.

Weiser made 5 of 8 three-pointers in the first quarter.

The Wolverines made two more in the second quarter — but they only had one other field goal as Baker held Weiser to just 8 points.

Baker, meanwhile, matched its first-quarter output of 18 points — 10 by Gambleton — and the Bulldogs led 36-32 at halftime.

Gambleton said the Bulldogs played defense with greater intensity after struggling in the first quarter.

“It was a great team effort from everybody,” he said.

Jones said he pointed out to his team that Weiser was on pace to score 96 points — not the sort of number the Bulldogs want to see on the scoreboard in their first home game since Dec. 10.

“I think they just got tired of being embarrassed,” Jones said. “They challenged themselves, and they did better the last three quarters.”

Baker turned a tight game into a near rout with a flurry of baskets in the last 3 minutes of the third quarter.

Leading 42-37, the Bulldogs finished the quarter on a 14-4 run, including 10-2 in the final 2 minutes.

Two of Baker’s seniors took turns leading the charge.

Caden Long scored 5 of his 21 points, and Riley Flanagan had the last two baskets, the second an acrobatic layin that boosted Baker’s lead to 56-41. Flanagan added 14 points.

Gambleton then took over early in the fourth, scoring 7 straight points, including his fifth three-pointer, to give Baker its largest lead at 63-44.

He credited his teammates.

“The only reason I got open looks was that my teammates were unselfish moving the ball around,” the junior point guard said.

Gambleton said Jones exhorted the Bulldogs during practice this week to make the extra pass that often leads to an open shot.

“We really shared the basketball, which is what we were working on all week in practice,” Gambleton said. “And we got layins.”

Jones said his players translated that practice emphasis into performance against Weiser.

“The guys were consistently unselfish,” he said. “That was a point of emphasis this week, and they did a great job of doing that tonight. It was one of our highest assist totals of the season.”

Jones said he was also pleased with Baker’s rebounding, especially on the offensive end, where it led to extra shots and a couple of easy baskets.

Gambleton took a knee to the thigh about midway through the final period, leaving him wincing in pain and limping. He stayed in the game, though, and he said afterward that although his thigh was sore he was fine otherwise.

Gambleton said it was fun to play in front of the Baker crowd for the first time in almost a month.

“I love playing at home,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere, with a great crowd and student section.”

Baker (7-5) won its third straight. The Bulldogs play host to Fruitland tonight at 7 o’clock and Vale Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (rescheduled from 4 p.m.).

WEISER (61)

Magana 0 1-2 1, Spencer 5 2-5 15, Harris 1 0-0 2, Reed 4 1-2 12, Estes 2 0-0 5, Jensen 8 0-0 19, York 1 0-0 3, Lattin 2 0-2 4. Totals 23 4-11 61.

BAKER (71)

Younger 0 0-0 0, Gambleton 11 5-9 32, Flanagan 7 0-1 14, Robb 0 0-0 0, Rigueiro 0 0-0 0, Wright 1 1-3 3, Shirtcliff 0 0-1 0, Long 8 4-9 21, Smith 0 1-2 1, Van Arsdall 0 0-2 0. Totals 26 11-27 71.

Weiser 24 8 9 20 — 61

Baker 18 18 20 15 — 71

Three-point baskets — Gambleton 5, Long, Spencer 3, Harris, Reed 3, Estes, Jensen 3, York. Total fouls — Weiser 18, Baker 14.

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