Cats rough up Stanwood

A suffocating pressure defense led the Oak Harbor Wildcat girls basketball team to a 58-31 victory over WesCo North foe Stanwood Friday night.

“Our defense really worked well tonight,” head coach Brett McLeod said. “I think our defense started everything for the offense.”

The Cats’ pressure forced the Spartans into numerous turnovers and as a result Oak Harbor received several easy transition buckets.

The Wildcat defense showed how dominate they really were allowing only three points from the Spartans for the entire fourth quarter.

“I think we played a lot smarter tonight,” McLeod said.

Things didn’t start out that smoothly for the Cats, who turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the game. However, it didn’t take Oak Harbor long to gain their bearings, building a 19-8 lead after the first quarter.

The Spartans never really posed an offensive threat to the Wildcats after claiming their only lead, 2-0 in the first quarter.

Oak Harbor continued to add on to its lead throughout the contest using the inside-outside game. With the success last year of 6-foot-3 sophomore center Heidi McNeil and her offensive play inside the key, teams have been forced to send as many as three players to stop her this season. This has opened up shots for the outside shooters and Friday they connected.

“That’s what we want to do, is look into the post first and then to our shooters,” McLeod said. “Hitting the outside shots is very important to us.”

With the double and sometimes triple-teams McNeil is well aware of where she needs to look when the defense collapses on her.

“When they close in on me that opens the outside up for shooters like Kaylea (Kingma), Shirley (Spears) and Felicia (Hill),” McNeil said.

Despite the Spartan defense paying extra attention to McNeil, she led the team in scoring with 19 points, including a buzzer beating lay-up at the end of the third quarter.

Hill scored 14 points, receiving many of them off of transition baskets. Kingma had nine points and the team’s only three-pointer, while Spears added eight for the Cats. Sophomores Keeley Smollack and Amanda Watts both came off the bench to score four a piece for Oak Harbor.

After a disappointing non-league loss to Anacortes, Oak Harbor is glad to have chalked up their first WesCo win of the season.

“It feels really good,” McNeil said. “Our first game was kind of rough and we didn’t play that well as a team, but it was a really good practice game for us. So I think that really warmed us up for this game. We came out hard and we played really well together.”

Oak Harbor has its next big challenge 7:30 p.m. tonight, Dec. 18, at home against Snohomish, who they shared the WesCo North title with last season.

Even though the Panthers graduated a majority last year’s team, they still pose a significant threat. Snohomish received their first league win Friday, 47-33 against a team in Monroe, who many picked to win the WesCo North division this year.

“Snohomish is Snohomish and they’re always a tough team,” McLeod said.

Oak Harbor 58, Stanwood 31

Oak Harbor—19 13 14 12—58

Stanwood— 8 6 14 3—31

Scoring—OH: McNeil 19, Hill 14, Kingma 9, Spears 8, Smollack 4, Watts 4.

SW: Beauchamp 9, Palmer 6, Jaimeson 5, Austin 4, Handelsman 3, Boheme 2, Webb 2.

Records: Oak Harbor (1-1) (1-0), Stanwood (1-3), (0-1)

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