Addition through subtraction.
The Oak Harbor High School boys basketball team lost one of the school's most celebrated athletes, Mike Washington Jr., to graduation, but four returning lettermen, each with a different skill set, should help the Wildcats field a more balanced attack this winter.
Washington Jr., a four-time all-Wesco selection now playing at Princeton, set a school career scoring record while the Wildcats leaned on him for offensive production. This year Oak Harbor will turn to JoJo Webster, Drew Washington, Dayne Herron and Chris Hailer.
Coach Mike Washington Sr. said, "We will get production from every spot in the starting lineup, something we have not had in a while."
Webster and Drew Washington are returning starters from last year's 8-15 team. The 6-1 senior Webster handles the point guard duties and is an outstanding ball-handler and passer; an explosive first step helps him attack the rim.
Washington, a 6-2 junior wing and Mike's brother, is a sharp shooter and one of the Western Conference's top three-point threats.
Herron, a 6-4, 275-pound senior post coming off an all-conference season in football, will provide muscle in the middle.
High-flying Hailer is a 6-4 pogo-stick forward who plays above the rim.
Washington Sr. said key newcomers are 5-11 senior post Fred Webster, 5-9 senior guard Anfernee Angkaw and 6-1 junior wing Gabriel Groenig.
The goal this year, according to Washington Sr., is to make the playoffs for the third straight season. Last winter the Wildcats qualified for the post season in consecutive years for the first time since 1992 and 1993.
Coach Washington said his team's strengths are shooting, getting to the rim and athleticism.
His expectations are to play hard and loose every night, not being afraid to make mistakes. He added he is emphasizing to his club to "not get too high or too low because it is a long season."
Washington Sr. sees Stanwood as the Wesco 3A North favorite, and "the rest of us can beat up each other on any given night."
He called the nonleague schedule brutal. Oak Harbor opens on the road with tough games at 7:15 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 27) at Anacortes and Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Snohomish.
Those "tuneups" will be followed by a 7:15 p.m. home game in the league opener with favorite Stanwood Friday, Dec. 7.
Washington Sr. said, "We need to get through the first three games and still have confidence. At Anacortes, at Snohomish and Stanwood is a tough task for anyone."
The opponents aren't the only brutal element of the schedule. Four of the first six games and six of the first nine are away.