The Baker girls basketball team’s rematch with Fruitland, Idaho, on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at Fruitland was about as dramatic as the teams’ first game on Dec. 15 in the Baker gym.
But the second chapter in the rivalry, unlike the first, had a happy ending for the Bulldogs.
After the Grizzlies rallied from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 32, Baker scored four straight points and held on for a 37-35 win.
The Bulldogs improved to 8-3 on the season. They are ranked sixth in the state at the Class 4A level.
“Any time you can go on the road and beat a quality team, it’s a good thing,” Baker coach Jason Ramos said. “There’s a lot of positives to take away from this.”
Ramos said he was excited to see the team prevail in a game when the outcome was in question almost to the final seconds.
Baker’s three losses, to Pendleton, Fruitland and Crane, were by a combined five points, with the Pendleton and Fruitland losses both by a single point.
“It was a great finish for us to be able to come out with a win in that situation,” Ramos said.
He said he reminded his players, during a fourth quarter timeout, that in similar cases the Bulldogs had fallen just short.
“We talked about finishing the right way this time, and the girls were able to do that,” Ramos said.
Baker made key free throws in the fourth quarter, scoring four of their eight points at the line.
Sydnee Pierce had two free throws in the final period, and Macey Moore and Rylee Elms one each.
Ramos said Elms shrugged off two early fouls to have one of her best games, scoring a team-high 13 points.
Jozie Ramos and Moore had eight points each.
The rematch at Fruitland played out much like the earlier game in Baker — particularly the fourth quarter. In both games the teams were tied at 32.
In the Dec. 15 game at Baker, the Bulldogs’ rally fell just short after Fruitland led 40-36.
At Fruitland, by contrast, the Grizzlies had to play from behind.
Jason Ramos said Baker switched to a zone defense late in the game after Fruitland, taking advantage of openings in the lane, had battled back to tie the score at 32.
That shift led to a couple of key defensive stops that kept the Grizzlies at bay, he said.
“And we capitalized at the other end,” Ramos said.
The game was close throughout.
Baker led 9-8 after one quarter, and the margin remained a single point, 19-18, at halftime.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 29-24 after three quarters, and took their largest lead, 32-24, early in the fourth before the Grizzlies rallied.
Baker won the JV game, 36-35. Kaydence Thomas and Makea Robb each scored eight points for Baker, Tiyana Stevens had seven, and Ashlyn Dalton and Aiyana Radford four each.
The Bulldogs are slated to return to the road for their third long trip of the season.
Baker is scheduled to play at Madras on Friday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m., and then take on Crook County at Prineville on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 11 a.m.
The Baker boys varsity team, which is slated to play host to Fruitland on Thursday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m., will also make the trip to Central Oregon. The boys are scheduled to play Madras on Jan. 7 at 5:30 p.m., and Crook County the next day at 12:30 p.m.