BAKER — Propelled by a 14-0 game opening salvo the Baker School boys basketball team beat North Bay Haven Academy 80-68.
The win was the second straight for the Gators and Baker Coach Mike Martello hoped it was an indication that good things are happening for his team.
“We won Monday (against Central) and we won tonight so maybe we can get things going our way,” he said. “We have to learn from it that even if we are having that kind of success we can’t take a play or two off.”
A 3-point basket by Brooks Taylor with 4:28 capped early run by the Gators.
A Mitchell Moss basket with 3:50 left in the first quarter finally got the Buccaneers on the scoreboard.
But Baker (3-4) wasn’t ready to ease up on the visitors.
Back-to-back baskets by Justin Morgan were followed by a Taylor 2-pointer as the Gators pushed the lead to 20-2. Austin Walters hit a 3-pointer and Justin Shaw added a basket later in the quarter as Baker was up 25-8 at the end of the first quarter.
The Gators continued to pour it on in the second quarter using a strong defense to the lead to a 24-point advantage at the half.
Seven Gators scored in the second quarter as Baker put 25 points on the board.
Colton Kilpatrick’s on score of the game was the first Baker basket of the second period. Jonathan Gatewood scored back-to-back baskets to close the Gator scoring in the quarter.
In between Kilpatrick and Gatewood’s scores Shaw, Taylor, Walters, Austin Martin and Sage Smith scored.
With Baker up by 24 as the teams took the court for the start of the second half it seemed to be just a matter of the Gators finishing off the Buccaneers.
But North Bay Haven refused to go quietly into the late fall evening. Baskets started falling for the Buccaneers as the Gators eased up on the defensive pressure in the second half.
Slowly but surely North Bay Haven inched closer to the Gators.
“We kind of lost focus a little (in the second half),” Martello said. “At halftime we talked about not losing focus and just winning the second half.
“I think having that big lead just got us complacent.”
The Buccaneers knocked 10 points off the Baker lead in the third quarter, but still trailed by 14 as the fourth quarter started.
North Bay Haven cut the Gator lead to 10 points twice in the fourth quarter, but each time Baker had an answer.
A Darius Richardson basket with 5:17 left in the fourth pulled the visitors to within 10 of the Gators, but Taylor converted on a 3-point play to push the lead back to 13 at 66-53.
Less than 30 seconds later the Bucs were back to within 10 points of the Gators with the scored 66-56. Walters responded with a 3-pointer with 4:33 left in the period and Baker was able to hold off the Buccaneer rally.
Five Gators scored in double figures. Morgan led the way with 18 points. Walters had 15, Taylor 13 and Hicks and Shaw each had 10.
North Bay Haven’s David Jones topped all scorers with 24 points.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.