Wildcats' dream season finally ends

Oak Harbor shooting guard Marcy Manibusan was just one three-pointer shy of the 4A girls state tournament record against Thomas Jefferson (Auburn) on Thursday. Unfortunately, Jefferson’s Jessiye Clark was even better.

In a three-pointer duel, Jefferson’s Clark hit a tournament record seven three-pointers while Manibusan had five in the Raiders’ 62-43 victory over the Wildcats in the second round of the 4A state tournament in Tacoma. With the loss the Wildcats’ first-ever trip to the state tourney came to an end.

“We’re sad,” said head coach Dwight Lundstrom after the game. “This was a good season for us, we had a little bit of a turnaround and the girls didn’t want to see it end.”

The Wildcats trailed Jefferson by just one after the first period and stayed with them for most of the game except for one stretch in the second quarter when the Raiders put together an 18-1 run that gave them a 13-point halftime lead. Clark nailed four of her three-pointers during this stretch.

“We knew what she was doing but we just couldn’t get out on her,” said Lundstrom. “From watching Jefferson’s game last night we knew she was going to shoot, she just got hot against us.”

In Jefferson’s first-round game, Clark went 1-of-10 from behind the three-point line in a 68-55 loss to Richland.

“Today was her day,” said Oak Harbor point guard Valerie Hartman about Clark’s display. “We were watching her shoot yesterday and nothing was going in.”

Manibusan, who led the Cats with 15 points, drilled three three-pointers in the first half, dueling with the 5-foot-5 Clark.

“The first half we were going back-and-forth,” said Manibusan. “Sometimes that’s kind of fun to do that.”

The Wildcats were not able to overcome 26 turnovers in the contest that led to 22 Jefferson points, and they couldn’t get the Raiders to turn the ball over when they pressed them on defense.

“We had a lot of turnovers early and you just can’t afford to do that at this level,” Lundstrom said. “Then we couldn’t force them to turn the ball over; they kept their cool.”

The fourth quarter saw the Wildcats desperately trying to get back in the game. Kaylea Kingma hit a three on the first possession of the final period to get Oak Harbor to within 12, but that was as close as it got.

“I think we took them a little bit for granted,” said Hartman. “We tend to play better against a really good team like Prairie and we played down to (Jefferson’s) level.”

Wildcats make it scary for Prairie

The Wildcats were knocked off by second-ranked Prairie in the first-round, but not before scaring the feathers off the powerful Falcons. Oak Harbor led Prairie, 38-37 with 6:17 remaining in the contest, before the experienced Falcons rallied for a 51-41 victory.

“We played a wonderful game,” said Lundstrom about the opening-round contest. “We had a chance - we were in the position that we wanted to be.”

The Falcons, who moved onto the semifinals with a 51-35 victory over Richland on Thursday, sported a starting front court 5-foot-11 or taller, led by 6-foot-4 senior Breann Spooner. Amazingly, the feisty Wildcats outrebounded Prairie 42-34 in the contest, but once again turnovers were Oak Harbor’s undoing. The Cats, playing in their first-ever state contest, had 28 turnovers compared to the tournament-readied Falcons 12.

“You could see the jitters in the first quarter,” Lundstrom said. “This was the first time we’ve been here and it was all new to the kids.”

Despite Prairie’s experience and talent, Oak Harbor never gave in. Down 24-11 late in the first half, the Cats went on an 8-0 run to get back in the contest before halftime. In the second half, trailing by 12, they went on a 13-point run to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons outscored the Cats 14-3 the rest of the way to pull out the win.

Freshman Heidi McNeill (12 points and 10 rebounds) and Manibusan (14 points, including four three-pointers) led the way for the Wildcats against Prairie. Manibusan finished the tourney 9-for-20 from behind the three-point line.

“In league they know I’m a shooter so they guard me pretty close,” said Manibusan. “Coming down here it was nice to have a little space.”

Despite the two losses in Tacoma, this was a milestone Oak Harbor team. The squad finished the season 19-6, won the Wesco North Division, and became the first Oak Harbor girls basketball team to make it to the state tourney. If the Cats basketball program continues to have success, this will be the squad that started it all.

“I talked to them about leaving a legacy,” Lundstrom said about his seniors. “They gave us something to build on.”

The loss to Jefferson was the final game for Hartman, Manibusan, and reserve guard Sarah Brundidge. Each will be missed next year, but now the Cats have something to build on for the future.

“It was awesome,” said Manibusan. “We would have liked to have won, but we’re excited about turning things around from 4-16 to 19-6. This is something that will help the girls next year.”

“It felt really good,” added Hartman. “Good things come to those who wait and Marcy and I waited three years. A lot of hard work finally paid off.”

Jefferson 62, Oak Harbor 43

Oak Harbor – 10 6 15 12 – 43

Jefferson – 11 18 17 16 – 62

Oak Harbor: Manibusan 15, Hartman 11, McNeill 6, Spears 4, Kingma 3, S. Bratt 2, Brundidge 2. Jefferson: Clark 21, Morse 20, Hunt 8, Long 6, Foster 4, Allen 3. 3-pt FG’s: Oak Harbor: Manibusan 5-12, Hartman 2-8, Kingma 1-5. Jefferson: Clark 7-17. Records: Oak Harbor 19-6, Jefferson 19-8.

Prairie 51, Oak Harbor 41

Oak Harbor – 9 11 12 9 – 41

Prairie – 20 10 7 14 – 51

Oak Harbor: McNeill 12, Pruss 1, Hartman 3, Manibusan 14, Kingma 3, Spears 8. Prairie: Short 2, Menkens 1, Cobb 9, Westbrooks 7, A. Sitton 1, B. Sitton 19, Cushing 12. 3-pt FG’s: Oak Harbor: Manibusan 4-8, Kingma 1-3. Prairie: Cobb 1-3, Westbrooks 1-5. Records: Oak Harbor 19-5, Prairie 24-2.

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