Baker’s girls basketball team had to wait a couple of extra days to resume its quest for a fourth straight Greater Oregon League regular season title.
But when the Bulldogs finally got their chance Tuesday night at Mac-Hi, they wasted no time in exerting themselves.
Baker’s defense was dominant, limiting the Pioneers to two free throws in the first quarter and to a single field goal in the first half.
The Bulldogs’ offense, meanwhile, was efficient, especially during a 22-point second quarter that boosted Baker’s lead to 35-6 at halftime.
Baker freshman post Jozie Ramos scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the first half. Junior guard Sydney Keller had 9 of her 11 points before halftime.
The Bulldogs went on to a 54-17 win and improved to 5-0 in GOL play with one league game remaining — Friday at 6 p.m. in the Baker gym against Ontario, which has a 1-4 league record.
Baker beat the Tigers 64-21 on Jan. 24 at Ontario.
Tuesday’s game at Mac-Hi was originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8. The contest was postponed because Mac-Hi’s gym was being used to house residents who evacuated due to flooding in Umatilla County.
Baker, the defending Class 4A state champion, continued its recent trend of playing stifling defense.
The Bulldogs have allowed an average of 27.4 points per game in their five GOL games.
Baker scored an average of 54.4 points in those games.
“We want to be a defensive-focused team, and we did that (against Mac-Hi),” Baker coach Mat Sand said. “Our defense was great. It took us a while to get our offense going, but we did that too.”
With Baker in control throughout Tuesday’s game, Sand was able to get extensive playing time for freshmen Rylee Elms, Makenzie Flanagan and Macey Moore.
And that meant more rest for the starters.
“This time of year, rest, physically and mentally, is huge,” Sand said. “I want to give the girls that rest. With young kids you need to pace the season.”
Distributing playing time is a balancing act, Sand said.
Although he was pleased to be able to give the three freshmen valuable experience in varsity games, with the playoffs looming he said he’ll now focus on the eight-player rotation that likely will take most of the minutes as the Bulldogs seek to repeat last year’s state championship.
Seniors Sydney Younger, Isabella Nemec, Lauren Benson and Anna Carter, along with juniors Keller, Jocelynn Hellberg and Hailey Zikmund, all return from last year’s title team. Ramos, a freshman, is the lone newcomer.
The rescheduling of the Mac-Hi game means Baker will play three games in four days this week. The Bulldogs will seek to run their winning streak to 12 games tonight when they travel to Vale for a nonleague game against the Vikings.
Baker beat Vale 50-28 on Jan. 7 at Baker.
But after Friday’s Senior Night game against Ontario, Baker will only have to play one game — for playoff seeding from the GOL — until the playoffs start March 6. The state tournament is March 12-14 at Forest Grove.
“I’m very pleased with where we’re at,” Sand said. “We have good chemistry as a team. We’re right where we want to be.”
Baker was even more dominant in the JV game Tuesday, beating Mac-Hi 67-4.
Elms 0 0-0 0, Hellberg 3 1-1 7, Flanagan 0-0 4, Keller 5 1-1 11, Younger 1 4-4 6, Zikmund 0 2-4 2, Carter 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie 0 1-1 1, Nemec 2 0-0 4, Ramos 6 3-7 15, Benson 2 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 11-18 54.
McPherson 0 0-0 0, Rencken 0 0-3 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Angel 3 3-3 10, Leber 0 2-2 2, Hernandez 1 0-0 02, Reichert 0 0-0 0, Rhoads 1 0-1 2, Garcia 0 1-2 1, Ellis 0 0-0 0, Oliva 0 0-0 0, Uribe-Garcia 0 0-0 0. Totals 5 6-11 17.
Baker 13 22 10 9 — 54
Mac-Hi 2 4 8 3 — 17
Three-point baskets — Angel. Total fouls — Baker 15, Mac-Hi 18.