It wasn't the preferred route, but the Oak Harbor High School boys basketball team secured a home game in the opening round of the district tournament with a 62-53 win over visiting Marysville Getchell in the regular-season finale Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Oak Harbor coach Mike Washington said, "The kids have been working hard all year. They just found a way to win it."
The Wildcats could have sewn up the home playoff game the night before against last-place Marysville-Pilchuck, but the Wildcats were upset 57-56 by the Tomahawks. That loss pushed Oak Harbor into its winner-take-second-place game with Getchell.
By beating Marysville Getchell, Oak Harbor (7-6, 11-9) wrapped up second in the Wesco 3A North. Had Getchell (5-8, 7-13) won, the Chargers would have tied Oak Harbor in the standings and received the second seed because it owned the tie-breaker after the Wildcats' loss to M-P.
The win over the Chargers gave Oak Harbor its first regular-season winning record since 1998 (12-8) and its first-ever home district playoff game since the Western Conference went to its present format several years ago.
Oak Harbor will play the Wesco South third-place team at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6. That team will most likely be 10th-ranked Shorewood (9-3, 14-5), but the opponent won't be officially decided until the South finishes its final games Thursday, Jan. 31.
The victory against Getchell was sparked by several players, but the two biggest jolts were delivered by Dayne Herron and Dyllan Harris.
Starting post Herron had only a slight height advantage over his Charger counterpart; however, he had a decisive weight advantage. The 6-4, 270-pound senior muscled his way to 21 points on 9-for-9 shooting.
Harris, a freshman reserve, calmly sank seven of seven free throws in the final two minutes to stave off Getchell's comeback attempt. One of the foul shots completed a three-point play after a steal that gave the Wildcats a 54-46 lead with 1:13 to play. He finished with 13 points.
JoJo Webster scored 15 points, including three threes, and handed out a team-high four assists.
Chris Hailer scored only four points, but they were from two momentum-boosting dunks. He also collected a team-high nine rebounds.
Drew Washington finished with six points, Gabe Groenig two and Anfrenee Angkaw one.
Oak Harbor was down 12-6 when Herron scored six straight to make it 12-all at the quarter.
Herron added six more points and Harris four as the Wildcats went into the locker room up 24-20.
Oak Harbor's biggest lead was 10, 37-27, midway through the third period.
After three 'Cat turnovers, the Chargers cut the gap to 49-46 with 3:28 left. Then came the string of Harris free throws, backed by a perfect 4-for-4 from Webster.
Oak Harbor struggled at the line much of the year, but drilled 12-of-13 over the final two minutes.
In the loss to previously winless Marysville-Pilchuck (1-11, 1-18), Oak Harbor scored the first six points of the second half to take a 37-23 lead.
From there the Wildcats cooled and M-P, particularly Kyle Garton, heated up. Garton hit six threes to bring the Tommies back.
Marysville-Pilchuck rebounded an Oak Harbor miss with 20 seconds left and scored at the buzzer to pull off the upset.
Coach Washington said, "They played like a team that hadn't won a game and really wanted a win."
Herron had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Drew Washington scored 15, Webster eight, Groenig seven and Hailer five.