For the first quarter Tuesday at Fruitland, the Baker boys basketball team embraced its role as the underdog and used it as motivation.

The three other quarters the Bulldogs just looked like, well, underdogs.

After racing to a 16-4 lead after one period, Baker struggled the rest of the way and lost 52-33 to the Grizzlies.

Fruitland also beat Baker 59-45 on Jan. 3 at Baker, and in that game the Bulldogs had their starting point guard, Gabe Gambleton, in the lineup.

On Tuesday, with Gambleton home in Baker recovering from an injury he suffered in Monday’s win over Mac-Hi, Baker coach Jebron Jones said he told his players that Fruitland had to be considered the favorite.

His pregame speech had the intended effect.

“The boys came out real spirited,” Jones said. “They got great shots and took care of the ball.”

Caden Long had 9 points in the period to lead Baker.

But after its 16-point outburst, Baker only barely doubled its point total the rest of the way.

“Their pressure got to us,” Jones said. “We had turnovers and we gave up way too many easy buckets.”

Despite the loss, Jones said he was pleased with his players’ effort.

“The whole team played hard all 32 minutes,” he said.

Jones said he’s confident the Bulldogs will be ready when they resume Greater Oregon League play Friday at Ontario. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. PST.

He didn’t know whether Gambleton would be ready to play. He leaped high to try to block a shot and landed hard on his tailbone.

“It’s hard for him to sit out any game,” Jones said. “But he needs to take care of himself physically, which is the most important thing.”

Fruitland won the JV game, 47-32, and the JV2 game, 57-43.

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