Cats win scrap with Storm

The Oak Harbor girls basketball team used the clutch outside shooting of senior Marcy Manibusan and the inside play of junior Shirley Spears to post a 73-66 come-from-behind victory over the Squalicum Storm on Wednesday night.

Manibusan led the Cats with 23 points, including six three-pointers, and Spears added 20 on a bevy of drives and baseline shots as the Wildcats picked up a win in their home opener.

Squalicum jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the Wildcats’ full-court press and could have taken a bigger lead were it not for Manibusan’s first two three-pointers of the night. The Storm aggressively drove the ball to the basket in the first quarter. The Wildcats were able to stem the tide when senior guard Valerie Hartman stole the ball and dished to freshman post player Heidi McNeill who converted a three-point play to pull Oak Harbor within one at 20-19 at the end of the quarter.

“Well, we were certainly cold to start the game,” said Wildcat head coach Dwight Lundstrom after the contest. “But we just kept playing our defense and it all came together.”

The score went back-and-forth in the second frame with both teams having almost as many turnovers as baskets. Despite Hartman picking up her third foul and having to sit midway through the quarter, the Wildcats kept it close, trailing 35-33 at the half.

“Valerie didn’t shoot the ball all that well but she ran the offense well and played good defense,” said Lundstrom. “She played well in foul trouble.”

Oak Harbor was finally able to gain control of the game in the third quarter behind the play of Spears and Manibusan. Spears got off to a quick start, putting in a layup to knot the score at 35-35 and then making a steal and laying the ball in for another score. The 5-10 junior had 10 of her 20 points in the third frame.

Oak Harbor took its biggest lead of the game at 39-35 before the Storm went on a 9-2 run to regain the advantage. With Squalicum poised to extend its lead, Manibusan hit another clutch three to tie the contest at 44-44. The senior hit another three late in the quarter and the Wildcats entered the final period holding onto a 52-49 lead.

“The outside shot, that’s Marcy’s game,” said Lundstrom of Manibusan’s ability to get open on the wing for a three-point shot.

The Wildcats began to pull away from Squalicum early in the fourth. Manibusan sank a baseline jumper for her first two-point shot of the night and was fouled. She hit the free throw for another three-point play to give Oak Harbor a 58-49 advantage, their biggest lead of the night.

Before the Cats could get comfortable, Squalicum came storming back with an 8-0 run of their own to pull within one. That run was stopped by sophomore Jen White’s layup and the Bellingham school never got that close again. The Cats were able to hold on until the end despite a furious Squalicum press and the game ended at 73-66 with Oak Harbor ahead.

Sophomore Kami Irwin led the Storm with 19 points while senior Kelli Kosa added 14.

“Both teams really went at each other,” Lundstrom said. “We knew coming in that they had some girls who could shoot the ball.”

The Wildcats benefited from the inside play of Spears and McNeill who had 13 points in her home debut.

“They were pretty good, they had some big people under the hoop that caused some problems,” said McNeill about the Storm.

“Shirley (Spears) and Heidi (McNeill) really gave us what we need with some good post play,” said Lundstrom. “Teams have to be worried about the inside against us and that just opens thing up on the outside.”

With the victory Oak Harbor improved to 2-0 on the season. The Cats played their conference opener at Cascade last night. Results will be published in the next edition of the Whidbey News-Times.

Oak Harbor 73, Squalicum 66

At Oak Harbor H.S.

Squalicum – 20 15 14 17 – 66

Oak Harbor – 19 14 19 21 – 73

Squalicum: Taylor 6, Alton 3, Irwin 19, May 5, Volland 2, J. Kosa 11, K. Kosa 14, Van 2, Cozada 2.

OH: McNeill 13, White 5, Hartman 7, Manibusan 23, Kingma 4, Bratt 1, Spears 20. 3-point goals- Irwin, May, J. Kosa, K. Kosa, Hartman, Manibusan 6. Records- Squalicum 0-0 in league, 1-1 overall. Oak Harbor 0-0, 2-0.

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