Fresh off two days off after a hectic week, the Baker Girls’ basketball team overwhelmed Ontario 54-15 on Tuesday, June 15 in the Baker Gym.
The Bulldogs had played five games in six days from June 7-12, going 3-2 during that span.
Baker coach Mat Sand was delighted to see his side come back with a lot of energy after losing 39-30 to Burns on June 12.
âWe came out with a little rest (and) the girls are really starting to understand that their energy is what makes this game fun to watch,â Sand said.
The Bulldogs (7-3) controlled the tempo from the first jump ball. Baker dominated both sides of the field in the first quarter, leading to a 21-2 lead as sophomore Macey Moore tallied six of his eight points.
Sydney Keller, Baker’s only senior, said taking control early on was essential.
âWe have to play at our level of play,â said Keller, who had eight points. “When you play against a team, whether good or bad, you want to stay at your level and play your game.”
Ontario (0-11 on the season) regained some offensive rhythm in the second quarter, with nine points, but Baker still extended their lead to 31-11 at halftime.
Keller said Sand urged the Bulldogs to continue their inspired play in the second half despite the huge lead.
Baker responded by beating Ontario 20-2 in the third quarter, almost a repeat of the first quarter.
âEveryone needs to be aware and have the energy to be on the pitch because small mistakes can get expensive,â Keller said.
Baker never gave up defensively, keeping Ontario just two points in the fourth quarter as well.
Sophomore Jozie Ramos led Baker with 16 points. A trio of sophomore comrades also had solid games, with Makenzie Flanagan scoring 10 points, while Sydnee Pierce added five and Brooklyn Jaca four.
Although Keller said her last season has passed quickly, she said she enjoys seeing her young teammates grow more confident.
âIt’s super exciting, that’s kind of why I stayed to help them,â Keller said. âBeing such a young team, there was no one to lead it and help Mat teach them what to do, give back to the program and help them grow.
Sand said Baker’s defensive dominance is a sign that his young team – the roster includes 10 sophomores and two freshmen – is starting to flourish.
âI’m the kind of coach that it all starts with defense, if your offense is struggling you can catch up on the defensive end of the ball,â Sand said. âI loved the way we played defensively up front.
As has been the case during this condensed season – 12 games in three weeks – Baker has little time to revel in his latest victory.
Baker travels to Vale today and then to La Grande on Friday June 18, with a chance to avenge a 51-32 loss to rival Tigers on June 8.
“I think we can compete with La Grande, but we have to play a game without mistakes,” said Sand.
Keller, who played her last game in the BHS gym on Tuesday, is also excited about one last chance to beat La Grande, who is 9-0 this season.
Prior to the June 8 loss, Baker had beaten La Grande 13 times in a row and Keller was part of more than half of those wins.
âI’m super excited, really looking forward to it since they’ve been here in our house,â Keller said.
Sand said Tuesday’s win over Ontario was bittersweet, as he watched three-year-old starter Keller in his final game in front of a home crowd.
“I just want to get her off well, and I want to thank her for helping me mature this team, because it’s not just me,” said Sand. “I just want to say thank you.”
Keller said she was grateful to the Baker community for their support and for the memories they made on hardwood.
“Just to leave it all here and wear my last white Bulldog jersey, now let’s see where it goes, and come to Vale, come to La Grande. I’m just so grateful to everyone at Baker and all the support.” , Keller said.