Cats stumble

If the Oak Harbor girls can gain one positive from their 56-53 home loss to Cascade Wednesday night, it’s that they can learn from their mistakes before entering the playoffs.

Down by three, 54-51, with 14.5 seconds remaining in the game, the Wildcats needed a three-point shot to tie the contest. After working the ball around for an open look, junior Felicia Hill pulled up a step inside the three-point line with five seconds left. Her two-point attempt skimmed off the rim and Cascade secured the rebound, getting fouled in the process.

“We’ve got to get a better understanding of time and the score there,” Oak Harbor head coach Brett McLeod said. “That’s something we’ve got to work on in practice so we’re better when we get to the playoffs.”

After made free-throws by Cascade senior Brittany Bekins, the win was sealed for the Bruins.

“To see it slip away at the end was frustrating for everybody,” McLeod said.

From the five-minute mark in the third until the five-minute mark in the fourth the Cats were unstoppable, outscoring the Bruins 19-4. A three-point shot by Hill to start off the fourth period gave Oak Harbor their largest cushion, 46-40 since a nine-point first quarter lead.

“From about the middle of the third to the middle of the fourth we played pretty good there,” McLeod said. “We played team basketball, got some good shots and worked it around.”

The Cats were also able to make their run without the services of senior leader Shirley Spears, who picked up her fourth foul with 5:25 left in the third on a controversial call. Spears, who had 14 first-half points, was forced to sit down until late in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to find ways to keep her in the game,” McLeod said. “It’s no good having her on the bench.”

The Bruins then turned the tables on Oak Harbor close to the six-minute mark of the fourth, going on a 10-0 run, capturing a 52-48 advantage with 52-seconds left. A three-pointer by junior Kaylea Kingma brought the Cats to within one but they would get no closer. The Bruins connected on 4 of 5 free throws to close out the game, helping to pull off the upset.

“When you leave it all on the court it hurts even more,” McLeod said. “I thought we could hold our heads high, we gave it the effort, we’ve just got to get better in situations.”

Sophomore Heidi McNeill led Oak Harbor in scoring with 20 points. Spears, who was in foul trouble most of the game, followed with 14 points, including four three-pointers.

The loss was the Cats’ second in a row after winning 13 straight and moves them to a tie with Monroe for second place in the WesCo North. Both have a league record of 11-3, just one game behind league-leader Snohomish.

“We’ve got to win Friday and we’ve got to win Tuesday,” McLeod said. “Maybe we don’t have a chance for the league title but we have a chance to get home court in the first round, so we keep our goals going and hopefully we’ll do that.”

Up next for Oak Harbor is their final regular season game at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Monroe. Depending on Friday night results, the game could be a battle for the second place spot in districts. The spot would guarantee a first round home game in the playoffs.

“Monroe at Monroe is going to be tough but if we play as hard was we normally do, good things are going to happen,” McLeod said.

Oak Harbor—18 12 14 9—53

Cascade— 16 16 8 16—56

Scoring—OH: McNeill 20, Spears 14, Kingma 6, Watts 6, Hill 5.

C: Auckland 20, Bekins 9, Jones 9, Smoke 9, Muscatell 6, Adams 3.

Records: Oak Harbor 11-3 league, 14-4 overall; Cascade 8-6 league, 12-6 overall.

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