The Baker girls basketball team hasn’t lost to a Class 4A opponent in more than a year and a half.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their schedule also includes Class 3A Burns.
The Hilanders, the last team from any level to beat Baker in the past year, shocked the Bulldogs Tuesday night in the Baker gym, winning 47-46 on Aundraya Ceja’s layin with 20 seconds left.
On a night when Baker unveiled its 2019 Class 4A state championship banner, the Hilanders won their second straight over the Bulldogs, ending Baker’s 25-game winning streak.
That streak started on Dec. 20, 2018, five days after Burns beat Baker 61-46 on the Hilanders’ home court.
Tuesday’s upset was quite a different situation, as Baker had the ball, leading 46-45, with less than a minute left.
Burns, which had only four team fouls in the second half, appeared to be trying to foul intentionally to stop the clock and eventually put Baker on the free throw line.
But no foul was called and Burns grabbed an errant Baker pass.
Burns coach Brandon McMullen called timeout with 29.7 seconds left.
When play resumed, Ceja, the shortest player on the court at 5-foot-3, drove into the lane and flipped up a shot that slid around the rim for a second before dropping through the net.
Baker’s Sydney Younger, who scored a game-high 18 points, raced down the court but was called for a charging foul in the lane with 11.7 seconds left.
Baker, which had only five team fouls, committed its sixth with 8.5 seconds left. The Bulldogs then allowed Burns to advance the ball over midcourt and didn’t foul again until just 3.1 seconds were left.
Burns’ Kaiden Ralf missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Baker was unable to get out of backcourt and didn’t get off a desperation shot before the final buzzer sounded.
Baker coach Mat Sand said that although it appeared to him that Burns was trying to foul with the Bulldogs leading 46-45, Baker’s miscues had put the team into a difficult position.
“We should have never been in that situation,” Sand said. “I hand it to Burns. They stuck around. We didn’t execute.”
Burns coach Brandon McMullen said he feels fortunate to leave Baker with a win.
“That’s a really well-balanced Baker team,” McMullen said. “We had some timely shooting. It’s a really tough place to play. Tonight it was two heavyweight programs going at it. It came down to the last possession and we just came out on top.”
It was a back-and-forth game marked by a series of scoring runs by both teams.
Two of those happened in the fourth quarter, which started with Burns leading 38-32.
It was the first time Baker had trailed so late in any of its six straight wins to start the season.
The Bulldogs scored 10 straight points to start the final period — 7 by Younger, the senior point guard and floor leader.
Younger’s 13-foot jumper with 3:20 left gave Baker a 42-38 lead, and it looked as though the Bulldogs were poised to finally pull away.
But Burns, who Sand succinctly described as “scrappy,” proved again to be resilient.
Alicyn Hoke scored inside and Kaitlyn Wright banked in a shot to tie the score at 42 with 2:15 left.
On Baker’s next possession freshman Jozie Ramos made an inside basket to give Baker a 44-42 lead.
But less than 15 seconds later Allie Hueckman, who led Burns with 16 points, drained a three-pointer and Burns regained the lead at 45-44 with 1:51 left.
Younger and Ramos then ran the give-and-go to perfection, with Younger taking a post pass from Ramos and scoring on a layin to give Baker its last lead, 46-45, with less than 2 minutes on the clock.
Hueckman was fouled with 1:31 left but she missed both free throws, giving Baker the ball and the lead.
McMullen said that on the ensuing possession, when it seemed Burns players were trying to foul, there was enough time left that he told his team to take chances going for a steal and to not worry about fouling, since that might become necessary anyway.
Baker started the game sluggishly. Burns scored the final 6 points of the first quarter and led 12-6 at the break. Baker had five turnovers in the quarter and missed two layins.
Burns (6-1 on the season) extended its led to 17-6 early in the second quarter before Hailey Zikmund gave Baker a boost off the bench. Zikmund scored 5 straight points, and 7 in the quarter, and Younger’s layin at the buzzer gave Baker a 21-19 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs then scored the first 8 points of the second half to take its largest lead at 29-19 with 5:51 left.
But after McMullen called timeout, the Hilanders finished the third quarter on a 19-3 run, including 14 straight, to lead 38-32 entering the final period.
Baker lacked the balanced scoring that has marked several of its earlier wins. Just four Bulldogs scored. Baker had only one three-pointer while Burns made five.
“We couldn’t hit an outside shot,” Sand said. “We had moments when we played the basketball we’re supposed to play. Defense is the start of everything and when you have lapses on defense you’re going to lose games.”
Dobson 0 0-0 0, Hueckman 7 0-2 16, Hoke 3 2-4 8, Miller 2 0-0 5, Engebretson 0 0-0 0, Ceja 4 0-4 10, Wright 1 0-0 2, Raif 2 1-3 6. Totals 19 3-13 47.
Hellberg 0 0-0 0, Keller 3 2-4 8, Younger 8 1-2 18, Zikmund 3 1-2 7, Carter 0 0-0 0, Nemec 0 0-0 0, Ramos 5 3-6 13, Benson 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 7-14 46.
Burns 12 7 19 9 — 47
Baker 6 15 11 14 — 46
Three-point baskets — Heuckman 2, Miller, Ceja 2, Raif, Younger. Total fouls — Burns 10, Baker 16.