The Baker girls basketball team can hardly improve on last season — near perfection is like that — but coach Mat Sand said the Bulldogs relish the challenge.

After going 25-1 and winning the school’s first girls basketball state championship, the Bulldogs have set quite a standard.

“A lot of high expectations again,” Sand said. “I think we have all the ingredients to put something together that’s special just as we did last year.”

The Bulldogs took the first step toward that goal Wednesday night by traveling to Pendleton and holding off the Bucks 37-30.

Sand said the low score reflected the predictable offensive struggles of two teams playing their first game of the season.

“It’s always a work in progress,” he said. “We took good shots for the most part.”

Senior Sydney Younger led the Bulldogs with 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

Younger is one of three returning starters. Another is her backcourt teammate, junior guard Sydney Keller. Sand said that experienced duo will be vital to Baker’s success.

“If you don’t get the ball up the court you’re not going to have a very good team,” he said. “It’s a huge asset to have both back. They did a great job (against Pendleton) controlling the tempo and delivering the ball.”

Gone from the championship team are graduating seniors and leading scorers Rose Gwillim and Jayme Ramos. They’re now teammates at Mount Hood Community College.

“You don’t replace a Rose or a Jayme,” Sand said.

Not exactly, anyway.

But the Bulldogs are fortunate that they can in one sense replace a Ramos — Jayme’s younger sister, Jozie, a freshman, scored 12 points in her first high school game Wednesday.

“The sky’s the limit for Jozie,” Sand said.

Baker’s challenging non-league schedule continues today in Prineville when the Bulldogs play Estacada in the first of three games in a tournament. Baker’s first home game, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. against Burns, is both a chance to avenge the Bulldogs’ only loss last season, and to unveil their championship bracket. Sand said Gwillim and Jayme Ramos plan to attend the ceremony.

PENDLETON (30)

Neveau 3 5-11 11, Samp 0 0-0 0, Wilson 2 0-0 5, Lee 0 0-0 0, Spriet 2 0-1 4, Conley 1 0-0 2, Youncs 0 1-2 1, Taber 0 0-0 0, Garcia 0 0-0 0, Jenness 0 0-1 0, Hoisington 1 5-6 7. Totals 9 11-21 30.

BAKER (37) ­

Hellberg 0 0-0 0, Keller 0 0-4 0, Younger 4 1-4 15, Zikmund 1 0-0 3, Carter 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie 0 0-0 0, Nemec 1 2-4 4, Ramos 3 6-9 12, Benson 1 0-0 3. Totals 12 9-21 37.

Baker      11 8 11 9 — 37

Pendleton 6 5 10 9 — 30

Three-point baskets — Wilson, Younger 2, Zikmund, Benson. Fouled out — Ramos, Jenness. Total fouls — Baker 22, Pendleton 19. Technicals — none.

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