Sports

Wildcats pass first playoff test

Oak Harbor sophomores Kaylea Kingma (left) and Jen White (center) play defense against Shorewood in Wednesday night’s Northwest District first-round game. The Wildcats pulled out a 51-46 victory to advance to tonight’s semifinal contest against Shorewood. - Matt Moss
Oak Harbor sophomores Kaylea Kingma (left) and Jen White (center) play defense against Shorewood in Wednesday night’s Northwest District first-round game. The Wildcats pulled out a 51-46 victory to advance to tonight’s semifinal contest against Shorewood.
— image credit: Matt Moss

Playing in the first playoff game of their careers, the Oak Harbor girls basketball team came out tight against a very tall Shorewood Thunderbirds team on Wednesday night.

Thanks in part to a pumped-up home crowd and a defensive switch to begin the second-half, the Wildcats gained the momentum and posted a 51-46 victory over Shorewood to advance to the semifinals of the 4A Northwest District.

“These girls haven’t been in the playoffs ever and they were a little wound up at the beginning,” said head coach Dwight Lundstrom after the game. “But the crowd really helped out.”

Up by just two points at the half and being beaten on the boards, the Wildcats took control of the game in the third quarter after switching to a more aggressive defense.

“When we went to man-to-man full court on defense at the start of the third quarter that really helped,” said assistant coach Warren Quinn. “It really sparked us.”

The long-limbed Thunderbirds, who were led by 5-foot-10 point guard Nanda McCormick, 6-foot forward Brenee Mullen, and 6-5 center Kristen Thompson, outrebounded Oak Harbor 33-19 in the game but the Cats’ defensive switch after halftime alleviated the problem.

“We were not rebounding well in the first half,” said Lundstrom. “Going to man on defense in the third made us able to take control of the rebounding.”

Both squads came out tight in the first quarter with several turnovers and missed shots. The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead, before Shorewood made a 7-0 run to take the lead. Oak Harbor rallied with an inside bucket by Kaylea Kingma and then a three-pointer from Marcy Manibusan to take the lead again. Shorewood evened the game at 9-9 by hitting a jumper at the buzzer.

The Wildcats were sparked by point guard Valerie Hartman in the second quarter. The 5-2 senior scored six of her 10 points on the evening in the second, including a nifty baseline drive around Thompson on a layup. Hartman finished the contest with 10 points, 10 assists, and five steals.

After closing to within two at the end of the first half, the Thunderbirds opened up the second by scoring five straight points and taking a 29-26 lead.

Oak Harbor freshman Heidi McNeill began a key sequence on the Thunderbirds’ next possession. McNeill blocked Thompson’s shot and in the scramble the 6-5 Shorewood freshman was whistled for her third foul and had to come out of the game.

“Heidi came through once again,” said Quinn. “She did a good job and got their big girl in foul trouble.”

With Thompson on the bench, the middle of the lane was open and the Cats took advantage. On the ensuing possession McNeill scored low on the blocks to bring Oak Harbor within one and start a 9-0 Wildcats run. The Cats outscored Shorewood 16-11 in the period, with McNeill collecting six of her 11 points during the third.

Both teams struggled to score at the beginning of the fourth. Hartman finally got the Cats on the board with a fastbreak layup. On the next possession she found Kingma down low for another bucket. Moments later Kingma scooped up an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to make the score 48-37 and pretty much ice the win for the Cats.

“Kaylea Kingma played well. She had to stop (McCormick) and she made her work. She slowed her down in the second half,” said Quinn. “She got a couple of key rebounds and putbacks.”

The Thunderbirds had one last rally in them, as McCormick scored the final five points of the night but it wasn’t enough and the Cats picked up the victory.

“Things were in control, I wasn’t too worried at the end,” said Lundstrom. “Taking the ball away and getting them in foul trouble really helped out.”

The Wildcats’ win over the Thunderbirds moves them into a semifinal match-up with Shorecrest tonight at 7:30 at Cascade High School. The winner of that game will play in the district title game and is guaranteed a trip to the 4A state tournament in Tacoma. The loser will have to fight their way through the loser bracket for the Northwest District’s third and final berth to the state tourney.

The Scots (15-6) are the No. 2 team from the Wesco South Division and defeated Lake Stevens 43-39 in the first round of districts to move on. Lundstrom expects a hard-fought contest.

“Shorecrest plays pretty tough man-to-man,” he said. “Knowing their coach they probably work very hard.”

Both coaches agreed that the game being played at Cascade favors the Wildcats.

“We’ve done well at Cascade this season,” said Quinn. “We beat them there and we shot the ball well. If we can get the kind of fan support there that we had tonight, watch out.”

“We’re comfortable there,” added Lundstrom. “We’ve been there this season and won, Shorecrest hasn’t so that helps.”

Oak Harbor 51, Shorewood 46

At Oak Harbor H.S.

Shorewood – 9 15 11 11 – 46

Oak Harbor – 9 17 16 9 – 51

Shorewood-McGinley 10, McCormick 13, Barnes 6, Vanderzee 6, Mullen 2, Thompson 9. Oak Harbor-McNeill 11, Pruss 2, Hartman 10, Manibusan 10, Kingma 13, Spears 2. 3-point goals-Vanderzee 2, Manibusan 2. Records: Oak Harbor 18-3 overall, Shorewood 10-11.

CLASS 4A NORTHWEST DISTRICT GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT (3 to state)

Feb. 20

Game 1: Oak Harbor (North No. 1) 51, Shorewood (South No. 4) 46.

Game 2: Shorecrest (South No. 2) 43, Lake Stevens (North No. 3) 39.

Game 3: Snohomish (North No. 2) 66, Jackson (South No. 3) 47.

Game 4: Kamiak (South No. 1) 53, Cascade (North No. 4) 35.

Tonight at Cascade H.S.

Game 5: Shorewood vs. Lake Stevens (loser out), 5:30 p.m.

Game 7: Oak Harbor vs. Shorecrest, 7:30 p.m.

Tonight at Marysville-Pilchuck H.S.

Game 6: Jackson vs. Cascade (loser out), 5:30 p.m.

Game 8: Kamiak vs. Snohomish, 7:30 p.m.

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