The scoreboard clock scarcely had time to start its work before Baker was in the lead, and the Bulldogs never relinquished that early momentum in a 58-33 rout of Weiser Saturday afternoon in a nonleague girls basketball game at the Baker gym.
Freshman Jozie Ramos tapped the opening tip to senior Sydney Younger, who raced downcourt for an uncontested layin.
That’s a designed play the Bulldogs will use if they think it’s likely that Ramos, the team’s tallest player at 6-foot, is likely to win the tip, Baker coach Mat Sand said.
Younger scored Baker’s first 5 points, and when Ramos grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a three-point play, the Bulldogs led 8-0 with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
Meanwhile Baker’s stifling full-court defense nearly kept the Wolverines scoreless for the entire period.
Mattie Shirts’ rebound basket with 43 seconds left in the quarter accounted for Weiser’s only points as Baker led 10-2.
The Bulldogs’ lead would have been bigger but for a few shots that barely missed, among them Younger’s runner in the lane that rolled agonizingly slowly around nearly the entire circumference of the rim before sliding off.
Shirts scored the first basket of the second quarter to cut the lead to 10-4, but Baker then scored 13 straight points to break the game open.
Four Bulldogs scored during the streak.
Sydney Keller started the run with a pair of free throws.
Ramos scored in the lane, and Isabella Nemec had a pair of baskets sandwiched around Hailey Zikmund’s bank shot. Younger assisted on that shot and on Nemec’s second hoop.
Sand called a couple of timeouts in the first half to review with his team some new offensive sets that the Bulldogs just started working on in practice this past week.
Sand said the team simply didn’t have time during December, when the Bulldogs traveled more than 2,000 miles to compete in four tournaments and also battled recurrent illness, to put in much practice time.
“We’re trying to work on some new things and add them to our tool box,” Sand said.
He said he’s also experimenting with lineups to see which groups of five players have the best chemistry depending on the opponents’ defensive strategy.
Although Sand said Baker went through offensive “ebbs and flows” during the easy win over Weiser, he was generally pleased with the Bulldogs’ progress.
“I like the way it’s coming along,” he said.
He was also satisfied with Baker’s defense — the key to the team’s success in every game, as Sand emphasizes repeatedly.
“If we play good solid defense that will translate into effective offensive,” he said. “I’m always looking for that defensive intensity. We want to set the tone of the game.”
Ramos, who tied Younger for game-high honors with 16 points, said Sand has instilled in his players the importance of playing solid defense.
“We try to play really intense defense,” Ramos said.
On the other side of the court, Ramos said she recognized from early in the game that she had an advantage over Weiser’s interior players once she had the ball in the post. In addition to her inside baskets Ramos drew multiple fouls and took advantage, making 4 of 5 free throws.
Ramos said she also looks to turn her teammates’ or her own missed shots into second-chance rebound baskets. She had three of those against Weiser.
But it was Baker’s defense that dictated the game early, even as the Bulldogs’ offense was inconsistent.
Weiser had 10 team fouls before it reached double figures in points.
Madison Phillips’ jumper from just inside the three-point line made the score 32-10 at halftime.
The Wolverines made a brief run in the middle of the third quarter, a 13-3 spurt that cut Baker’s lead to 37-25.
But Baker responded by scoring the last 6 points of the quarter — 4 by Younger and an 18-footer by Anna Carter — to rebuild the lead to 43-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Baker, which improved to 11-2 on the season, resumes its nonleague schedule Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game against Vale in the Baker gym. The Bulldogs start Greater Oregon League play Friday, Jan. 10, at La Grande at 6 p.m.
Bouvia 1 0-0 2, Phillips 1 0-0 2, Erickson 7 0-0 15, Juarez 0 0-0 0, Noyer 1 0-0 2, Shirts 4 4-6 12. Totals 14 4-6 33.
Elms 0 0-0 0, Hellberg 1 2-4 5, Flanagan 0 0-0 0, Keller 0 3-4 3, Younger 6 4-6 16, Zikmund 1 2-2 4, Carter 2 0-0 4, Mackenzie 0 0-0 0, Nemec 3 0-0 7, Ramos 6 4-5 16, Benson 2 0-0 2, Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 15-21 58.
Weiser 2 8 15 8 — 33
Baker 10 22 11 15 — 58
Three-point baskets — Nemec, Erickson. Total fouls — Weiser 20, Baker 9.