Cats hold first place

Shirley Spears saves the ball against Arlington. Spears had 21 rebounds for the second game in a row. - Jim Woolbright
Shirley Spears saves the ball against Arlington. Spears had 21 rebounds for the second game in a row.
— image credit: Jim Woolbright

There’s always the potential for a let-down after playing an important game, putting forth all your effort, then playing your next game.

That’s what made the two victories by the Oak Harbor girls basketball team last weekend so impressive.

After pulling off a huge road victory at Snohomish on Wednesday and grabbing first place in the WesCo North, the Wildcats stayed focused to beat Arlington 52-33 Friday night and put away Bellingham 63-47 at Key Arena Saturday afternoon.

A lethargic beginning against Arlington left the Cats knotted 11-11 after one quarter with the last place Eagles.

“We were a little bit fatigued and it’s kind of inevitable after playing a team like Snohomish,” head coach Brett McLeod said.

After the slow start, the Wildcats turned up their intensity in the second quarter behind the energy of junior Kaylea Kingma. With 4:15 remaining in the first half, Kingma powered a shot up and in through defenders and received a foul on the play. She hit the free-throw, completing the three-point and increased Oak Harbor’s lead to seven. The Cats cruised from there.

“Kaylea hit some big shots,” McLeod said. “She does so many other things too. Those things that don’t show up in the box score.”

Oak Harbor was also sparked by the aggressive play of senior Shirley Spears, who snagged 21 rebounds for the second game in a row. She was only two away from setting the school record at 23.

“She’s got this mission to get that school record,” McLeod said.

Even though Arlington did a solid job of denying the Cats’ leading scorer sophomore Heidi McNeill the basketball, the Wildcats were able to find success from others.

“So far when teams try to take her away we do have some other players that can step up and make it happen, McLeod said.”

Sophomores Libbie Bear and Keely Smollack and junior Camille Merritt came off the bench to provide positive play for Oak Harbor.

“They gave us some big minutes,” McLeod said. “I thought they did really well. That could benefit for us later in the season.”

Spears ended the high scorer for the Cats with 18 points including four three-pointers, while Kingma finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

“They were tired tonight but they found something deep down to make it happen,” McLeod said.

Approximately 15 hours later, Oak Harbor hit the hardwood again at Key Arena in Seattle against Bellingham.

Again Oak Harbor struggled in the first quarter, trailing 13-12 after one. They responded with a huge second quarter. The Cats exploded for 22 points in the second period, giving them a 34-19 halftime lead and control of the game.

Spears led Oak Harbor again with 23 points and three three-pointers, followed by McNeill with 13, junior Jenny White with 11 and Kingma with 10.

The non-league win was Oak Harbor’s 12th consecutive victory. They look to extend their streak at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Feb. 5, at home against Marysville.

“There’s nobody you can really relax against in our league,” McLeod said. “Even the lower tier teams are just right there and they’ll battle you and won’t give up.”

Oak Harbor—11 15 9 17—52

Arlington— 11 5 7 10—33

Scoring—OH: Spears 18, Kingma 13, McNeill 9, White 7, Smollack 2, Merritt 1.

A: Richardson 23, Cort 3, McCormick 3, DeNike 2, Kenoyer 2.

Records: Oak Harbor 10-1 in league, 12-2 overall; Arlington 1-10 in league, 2-13 overall.

Oak Harbor—12 22 16 13—63

Bellingham— 13 6 10 18—47

Scoring—OH: Spears 23, McNeill 13, White 11, Kingma 10, Merritt 4, Bear 2.

B: Hanson 24, Swank 7, Burt 5, Ellis 4, Bergner 2, Mittenberger 2, Shannon 1.

Records: Oak Harbor 10-1 in league, 13-2 overall; Bellingham 7-3 in league, 11-5 overall.

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