Oak Harbor girls clinch district berth

The Oak Harbor girls basketball team is back in the postseason.

The Wildcats’ 65-24 victory over the Arlington Eagles on Friday night, along with Marysville’s loss to Cascade, secured a district berth for the team for the first time in 10 years.

“I hadn’t done the work to figure that out,” said Cats head coach Dwight Lundstrom. “It’s nice and it was a goal, but we’re concentrating on Monroe and Snohomish this week. Were going to just keep doing what we have been doing all season and have fun.”

The game against Arlington was nearly over just as it began. Behind intense defensive pressure, the Cats jumped out to a 19-2 first quarter lead. Oak Harbor’s press gave the Eagles fits as they caused a steady stream of steals and turnovers. Lundstrom credited his team’s frame of mind for the defensive display.

“We were incredibly active on defense,” he said. “We had just finished the semester and the girls let it all go. They had nothing on their minds. They showed a lot of hustle and were always around the ball.”

The Wildcats limited Arlington to single-digit scoring in all four quarters. Especially impressive considering the second team saw significant action in the second and fourth quarters and kept the same pace that the first team did.

“We jumped out on them right away and the second five came in and did well,” said Lundstrom. “I was really pleased with the job they did. They kept things rolling in the fourth quarter.”

Leading the way for the Cats was senior point guard Valerie Hartman who had a game-high 16 points and added 10 steals. Sophomore forward Sarah Bratt led the charge for the reserves with 12 points on the evening.

“We really just caused them to turn the ball over by getting steals and forcing them to throw it away,” said Lundstrom. “Everyone did what they were expected to do and even a little bit more. It was a great job by all 10 kids.”

The last time an Oak Harbor girls squad made it to the district tournament was at the end of the 1991-92 season when the Cats were in the WesCo 3A Conference. The Cats finished with a 12-10 record that season, a mark that this year’s team has already blown by. With the win against Arlington, the ninth-ranked Wildcats improved to 14-1 and are working on a six-game winning streak.

That streak will be tested in the next two weeks as the Cats attempt to secure a WesCo 4A North Division title. The road is tough as they face the trio of teams behind them in the standings in three straight contests. Tonight they are scheduled to travel to Monroe to take on the third-place Bearcats, on Friday they go to Snohomish to take on the second-place Panthers, and on Feb. 6 they host fourth-place Lake Stevens.

“We have three tough games in a row,” said Lundstrom. “On defense we’re going to continue to go full-court. We’re working on a different press that’s a little softer but it doesn’t allow us to get beat deep. On offense we’re working on setting better picks.”

The Snohomish game is crucial to the Wildcats title aspirations. Oak Harbor is just one game ahead of the Panthers and gave them their only league loss with a 53-40 victory shortly before the holiday break. Lundstrom believes that his team’s defensive stance will be important in Snohomish.

“On defense we have to work on our box-outs, transition game and covering up their outside shooting. I think we can find ways to deal with their inside game.”

In the two squad’s previous meeting on Dec. 21, Oak Harbor outscored Snohomish 35-15 in the second half, rallying from an 11-point deficit to beat the Panthers for the first time since 1992.

Oak Harbor 65, Arlington 24

At Oak Harbor H.S.

Arlington – 2 7 6 9 – 24

Oak Harbor – 19 12 12 22 – 65

Arlington: Penix 2, McCormack 5, Thomsin 5, Kenoyer 4, Denike 2, Dreke 2, Murdock 2, Forry 2. Oak Harbor: McNeill 4, White 2, Pruss 4, Hartman 16, Brundidge 1, Manibusan 7, Kingma 3, D. Bratt 5, Spears 11, S. Bratt 12. 3-point goals: Hartman 2, Kingma 1, Manibusan 1. JV: Oak Harbor defeated Arlington. Records: Oak Harbor 11-0 in league, 14-1 overall. Arlington 2-9, 2 12.

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