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"The 2000/2001 high school basketball season may well be remembered as the Year of the Free Throw. Several weeks ago we talked about the new emphasis by the WIAA and Washington Officials Association on calling tighter games with regards to physical play.The Oak Harbor Wildcats were the beneficiaries of some of that closer calling last Friday night in their WesCo game against the Shorecrest Scots. But the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on their good fortune, making just four of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter in a two-point loss to the previously winless Scots.Coach Frank Hunters hoopsters will have a nine-day break following last night's game against Edmonds-Woodway to work on their free throw shooting before traveling to Stanwood to face the Spartans in a non-league affair next Thursday night.Stanwood entered their Christmas break unbeaten at 6-0 with impressive wins over Kamiak and Everett, a co-favorite with the Spartans for the top spot in WesCo 3A.Stanwood features a pair of the better underclassmen in the area in 6-foot-6 junior forward Marcus Steele, who was averaging over 23 points per game before suffering an ankle injury in the Everett game, and 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Ryan Appleby, who had 18 points and seven assists in the Spartans last game, a 67-54 win over Lynnwood. Appleby scored 13 points and handed out 12 assists in the win against Everett.The Spartans have also received a lift in their last two games from 6-foot-3 senior Josh Ellingson. He scored 29 points and hauled down 11 rebounds against Lynnwood on the heels of a 27-point, 17-rebound effort against Everett. The Cats will have to be strong and aggressive inside to handle Steele and Ellingson.Coach Nate DuChesne has a very talented basketball team that has established themselves firmly atop the league.The weather last week wreaked havoc not only on homes and businesses in the region, but upon the high school sports schedule as well. We were fortunate that the Shorecrest game was able to be played. On that same evening, the entire Northwest 3A schedule was canceled with games from Burlington to Lynden having to be re-scheduled due to the icy road conditions in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. The Wildcat wrestlers host a double-dual meet tomorrow night, Thursday, at 7:30 with a trio of solid teams visiting. WesCo 4A rival Cascade brings a 4-1 record to the meet and always fields a strong team. Joining the two 4A schools are a pair of the Northwest 3A League's finest in Ferndale and Anacortes.Anacortes is coming off a strong showing at the Tri-State Invitational last weekend in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where the Seahawks finished fifth in a field of 45 teams.The Seahawks finished with 106 team points. Two Seahawks placed second in their weight classes, Matt Cooper at 145 pounds and Josh Decker at 171 pounds.In several leagues around the Puget Sound area, wrestling matches have been canceled for a two-week period due to the outbreak of Herpes Gladiatorum, a strain of the simplex type 1 virus.Symptoms of Herpes Gladiatorum include lesions on the face, neck and head, often accompanied by headache or fever. The spread among wrestlers is common because it's transmitted through skin-to-skin contact of lesions or saliva. The incubation period is two to 12 days. Transmission through equipment or mats is not common. The wrestling-related infection is making news for the second time in the past three seasons. A Seattle-King County Department of Public Health official cautioned wrestlers about skin infections near the end of the 1998-99 season. "

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