Wildcats run out of steam

There’s often little consolation in defeat, but there was no question Oak Harbor boys basketball coach Bryan Schulle felt better on Tuesday than he did a year ago.

The Wildcats, who went 0-20 after losing last year’s season opener to Anacortes, showed drastic improvement this season in a 59-51 loss to the same Seahawk squad.

“I told them if you put two video tapes playing side by side, the first game of last year and the first game of this year and this game was night and day,” Schulle said.

In fact, Oak Harbor was one bad fourth quarter away from erasing its losing streak and getting its first win since February 2004.

Trailing 18-6 after the first quarter and 29-20 at halftime, the Wildcats orchestrated an impressive third-quarter rally behind the play of 6-foot-4, 275-pound post Will Hunter.

The junior proved unstoppable in the key, scoring eight of his team-high 13 points in the first four minutes of the quarter.

“Hunter really turned it on,” Schulle said.

Senior guard Will Lopez then gave the Wildcats the lead, 38-37, at the 1:50 mark of the third, nailing a straight-away three from the top of the key. The shot provided OHHS its first lead since it was up 2-0 to start the contest. Lopez followed his three with a transition jump shot that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead, 40-37, with 1:25 to go in the third.

All the energy exerted with Oak Harbor’s defensive pressure and run-and-gun offense in the third quarter started to work against them in the final quarter.

“We had the stretch there at the six-minute mark where we just got lethargic,” Schulle said. “I think we used a lot of energy there in that third quarter.”

On the flip side, Anacortes closed out the contest strong, hitting 10-of-13 free throw attempts in the fourth.

Lopez ended the night as Oak Harbor’s second-leading scorer with 10 points. Junior James Leach added nine and sophomore Bryce Schulle scored eight points, including two three pointers, in his first varsity game.

The Seahawks were led by junior guard Ian Austin with 14 points.

As for concerns about Oak Harbor’s confidence getting rattled after suffering a loss to start the season, Schulle isn’t worried.

“We try not to look at what we did last year,” he said. “I guess if we went 20-0 last year we probably wouldn’t talk about it’s a new season.”

The Wildcats were supposed to travel to Bellingham on Thursday to play the non-league Red Raiders, but the game was cancelled due to snow. A makeup date was still to be determined as of press time.

Anacortes 18 11 13 17 — 59

Oak Harbor 6 14 20 11 — 51

Scoring: Oak Harbor-Hunter 13, Lopez 10, Leach 9, Schulle 8, Heidt 5, Hughes 2, Koorn 2, Lobbestael 2. Anacortes-Austin 14, Kovach 11, Larkin 9, Ferrario 7, Sauer 7, Knorr 5, Sturgeon 4, Freeman 2.

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