Cats keep playoff hopes alive

MOUNT VERNON—Prior to their game against Mount Vernon, the Oak Harbor boys were on life support for a fifth and final playoff berth.

However, a hard-fought 57-53 road victory over the 12-1 league-leading Bulldogs Friday, provided the Wildcats with an increased chance of post-season survival.

“It feels really great,” senior Jon Jansen said. “We have a really good chance of going to the playoffs now.”

Not fazed by possibly one of the greatest high school athletic atmospheres in the state, Oak Harbor grabbed a win when they needed it the most.

“You come in here and the place is full,” head coach Bryan Schulle said. “It’s funny because before the game I looked up and I said we’re going to send these people home disappointed tonight.”

Trailing by a small margin for most of the contest, the Cats made a statement to start the fourth quarter. A three-point shot by senior Jake White 10-seconds into the fourth quarter gave Oak Harbor a one-point 40-39 advantage. The Wildcats were able to maintain that lead for the rest of the game, only letting it go for a brief moment.

The determined fourth-quarter play of junior Jeremy Brown helped push Oak Harbor over the top. Brown finished the fourth with eight points, including two highly acrobatic plays. An amazing tip-in off a missed shot and a slashing lay-up from the left baseline caused the die-hard Bulldog crowd to become abnormally quiet.

“Jeremy’s the rubber-band man,” Schulle said. “He’s rebounds well for his size, he’s a kid that looks like he’s going half-speed, but if you really watch him, he’s not.”

With 1.2 seconds left and a 55-53 lead the Cats were forced to inbound the ball from under their own basket. A potentially dangerous spot for a turnover, Oak Harbor completed a pass the full-length of the court to Brown, who scored just before the buzzer sounded.

The Wildcats were also successful on the evening in large part to their 2-3 zone defense, which forced the Bulldogs into several outside shots. Six-foot-six Jansen clogged up the inside, forcing Mount Vernon to take a number of three-point shots, which they couldn’t hit. Jansen was unable to become a factor in the first meeting between the two teams as he played most of the game in foul trouble.

“The last game I fouled out with about five minutes left,” Jansen said.

Brown finished the game the leading scorer for Oak Harbor with 15 points. White had 13 points, including three clutch three-pointers.

“Jake White changes the game,” Schulle said. “If you look at the games we’ve had success, look at Jake White’s line.”

Jansen along with junior Chris Raimundi added nine points apiece for the Cats, while senior Mike Lacey had seven important first-half points.

“We came in pretty confident,” Lacey said. “We came in off a couple of wins and our spirits were high and we’re coming together more as a team now.”

With the win, Oak Harbor sits at 7-8 in league at press time. They are a half game ahead of Arlington and Lake Stevens for the the fifth spot in the WesCo North. They are also only a half game behind Marysville-Pilchuck for fourth place. If they were to get fourth they would be guaranteed two more games in double-elimination play. Fifth place would require a single elimination, “pig tail” game against the WesCo South number four.

Whatever the case last night’s game against Monroe will determine whether or not the Wildcats will get a shot in the playoffs. Despite being 3-13 in league, Monroe has already beaten Oak Harbor once this year and has won the last three contests overall between the schools.

“We’ve got to beat Monroe,” Schulle said. “We owe those guys.”

Expect results from Tuesday’s game and possible playoff times in the Saturday edition of the News-Times.

Oak Harbor— 11 15 11 20—57

Mount Vernon—15 13 11 14—53

Scoring—OH: Brown 15, White 13, Raimundi 9, Jansen 9, Lacey 7, Van Dyke 2, Metcalf 2.

MV: Williams 17, Scott 11, Kendrick 9, Gibbons 6, Skjei 5, Burns 3, Moore 2.

Records: Oak Harbor 7-8 league, 7-12 overall; Mount Vernon 12-2 league, 12-6 overall.

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