Oak Harbor stays alive in district

When a basketball team leaves everything it has on the court in a heartbreaking loss, all too often, the team will fold its tent and go home in the following game.

That was the situation facing the Oak Harbor High School girls in Thursday’s loser-out matchup against Edmonds-Woodway at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the Northwest District 1/4A tournament.

Coming off a 55-53 loss Tuesday night to Jackson, it was win or think about next year for the Wildcats — and the team rose to the occasion in a big way.

Mietra Smollack scored a game-high 21 points, Jessica Denmon hit for 19, including three from long range, and the Wildcats connected on 20 free throw attempts in a 55-39 victory over Edmonds-Woodway to remain in the hunt for a trip to the state tournament.

Clair Thiel got Oak Harbor on the board first, but then Edmond-Woodway got hot from the field, hitting three 3-point baskets.

At one point, the Warriors held a 9-4 lead and the Wildcats appeared to be in trouble right away.

“It’s kind of a sigh of relief, actually,” coach Brett McLeod said after the game. “I don’t think we were playing our best at times. We left a lot on the court with Jackson and I think there was a bit of a hangover from that, maybe.”

After a time out, Smollack brought Oak Harbor back with a pair of baskets and four-straight free throws, and the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to take the lead.

“We knew we needed this win or else we would have been done,” Smollack said. “The five seniors didn’t want to be done. We we weren’t ready to do like last year, getting out in our second game. We knew we had to step it up and we did.”

At the end of the first eight minutes of play, Oak Harbor was on top 12-11.

The Warriors bounced back at the beginning of the second period and when Abby Butler scored at the 5:44 mark, Edmonds-Woodway had reclaimed the lead, 16-15. But that was the last time the Warriors would be in front.

Denmon got her long-range shooting game in gear, hit a pair of 3-pointers, and the half ended with the Wildcats up by six points, 24-18.

“We took care of the ball and we just got ourselves together and got into it,” she said.

Edmonds-Woodway cut the lead to 24-22 when Ashley Albertson connected at the 6:05 mark of the third period, but once again Oak Harbor battled back and the Wildcats went into the final quarter with a 36-29 lead.

In the final eight minutes, the Warriors once again narrowed the lead when Jennifer Singh drilled a 3-pointer to make the score 36-34.

Trailing 44-39 with less than three minutes remaining, the Warriors were forced to commit fouls in an effort to get the ball back.

That’s when the dead-eye shooting Wildcats took over from the charity stripe.

Denmon hit six straight from the line and Smollack added four

more as Oak Harbor stretched its lead.

“I thought we did enough on defense in the fourth quarter and we made a lot of free throws,” McLeod said.

In all, the Wildcats were 11-for-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone and 20-for-25 in the game.

“I like the way we hung with it and didn’t just totally collapse,” McLeod said. “It’s a sign of maturity and it’s nice to have some seniors and make some plays.”

Thiel was the third player in double figures for Oak Harbor scoring 10 points.

Singh scored 14 points for the Warriors and Butler had 13.

Oak Harbor plays the loser of the Lake Stevens/Marysville-Pilchuck game at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Marysville.

Oak Harbor 55, Edmonds-Woodway 39

Oak Harbor 12 12 12 19 — 55

E-W 11 7 11 10 — 39

Oak Harbor (55) — Mietra Smollack 5 10-11 20, Jessica Denmon 5 6-6 19, Clair Thiel 4 2-2 10, Janay Baeyen 0 0-0 0, Cheyenne Tubo 1 1-2 3, Jennifer Jansen 1 1-4 3, Cori Hendricksen 0 0-0 0, Roshaunda Smith 0 0-0 0, Jasmine Chong 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 20-25 55.

Edmonds-Woodway (39) — Jennifer Singh 5 0-0 14, Abby Butler 6 0-0 12, Alex Kennedy 1 2-2 4, Christina Olsen 0 0-0 0, Ashley Albertson 2 2-7 6, Kristen Lee 1 0-0 2, Erin Lauber 0 0-0 0, Sydney Donaldson 0 0-0 0, Lauren Petty 0 0-0 0, Amanda Shen 0 0-0 0, Andi Schultz 0 0-0 0, Marissa Willingham 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 4-9 39.

Three-point goals — Oak Harbor 3 (Denmon 3), Edmonds-Woodway 5 (Singh 4, Butler). Turnovers — Oak Harbor 6, Edmonds-Woodway 15. Total fouls — Oak Harbor 11, Edmonds-Woodway 18. Fouled out — none.

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