Balanced Baker girls cruise into quarterfinals

“There’s something about these girls when they step into the big spotlight. They’ve been there before.” Mike Stephens, Baker coach

BAKER — Baker lived up to its No. 2 seed with a 47-29 regional-round win over Northwest in a rough-and-tumble game Thursday night.

The Buffaloes used their standard formula of defense, rebounding and free throw shooting in chalking up their 100th win in the past four seasons.

The win means they will move into the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year. Baker will play E.D. White, a 52-37 winner over Caldwell Parish, in the quarterfinals

“This is a good group,” Baker coach Mike Stephens said. The three seniors (Jacquis Dodson, Anita Whitfield and Tia Hughes) have been with me for four years, since we were state runner-up when they were freshmen.”

Different players took turns stepping up for Baker (23-5) at different times Thursday. Eugena James scored eight points of her 13 points in the second quarter.

Jacquis Dodson led the scoring in the third quarter with seven of her nine points. Whitfield and Dodson took over in the fourth quarter, scoring all six of the Buffaloes’ points and took over the ballhandling chores as Baker held the ball to ice the game.

Baker also shot 11 of 12 from the free-throw line, although they shot just better than 50 percent in the regular season.

“There’s something about these girls when they step into the big spotlight,” Stephens said. “They’ve been there before.”

The Raiders solved the Baker press and took advantage of some cold Baker shooting to craft an 11-10 lead after one quarter.

The Buffaloes found their rhythm, though, and created three straight turnovers to reclaim the lead early in the second quarter. After Breanna Lavine hit two free throws to tie the score at 16, Baker ran off 10 straight points.

Jones led the Buffaloes’ surge with eight points, while Iesha Smith and Ariane Addison scored four apiece.

Baker controlled the second half, holding the Raiders to 11 points and only four in the fourth quarter.

The often-hectic pace, with bodies flying around, wasn’t one the Stephens said the
Buffaloes liked, but it was the style that Northwest (17-11) wanted.

“They were very athletic and wanted to run and gun,” Stephens said. “We expected that, and we knew we’d have to get back on defense. They have some good players, and their little point guard (Lavine) is great. They made some nice shots in the first quarter, and kudos to them.

“In the fourth quarter, we thought we could pull them out, stall the ball a little and that’s what we did.”

Lavine had a torrid first
half with 12 points, but Baker held her scoreless in the second.

“We hoped to win the game,” Northwest coach Natasha Malone said, “but we had too many turnovers.

“That was our pace, definitely. This was feet to the fire the whole game. We practice against boys every day, and they don’t have a choice. Keep up or get left behind. They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect, but we didn’t take care of the ball.”