Wildcats hustle to victory

Brett McLeod saw flashes of what his team could do in its first two non-league games.

It wasn’t until Friday night, however, that the Wildcats put every element together, grabbing their first win of the season, 56-48, over Cascade.

“To start WesCo, to get a win, to play this well, to see the ball go in the basket and to play like this in front of our home crowd — that was good,” McLeod said.

Friday’s success started via an aggressive, swarming defense. Behind a full-court press, Oak Harbor pressured Cascade into 11 first half turnovers.

“They didn’t expect it and it kind of frustrated them,” sophomore post Mietra Smollack said.

OHHS also pulled down 35 rebounds for the game, 19 of which were offensive.

Perhaps more significant than the turnovers and the rebounds were the poor shots the Wildcats rushed the Bruins into. Cascade knocked down just 4-of-27 (14 percent) of their first-half attempts. Over half of those shots, 14, were long hoists from three-point range and only two of those went in.

“They were missing shots for us and we kept getting those rebounds,” McLeod said.

Oak Harbor took advantage of its early pressure, going up 17-3 after one quarter and 32-12 by halftime.

Smollack, a 5-foot-9 post, was also key to the first half success as she scored 11 of her team-high 19 points. Most scores came down low, but she also added a three pointer.

The Wildcats maintained a healthy advantage through the third quarter, 40-23, before the Bruins suddenly came alive in the final quarter.

“They can make up a lot of points in a hurry and we knew that,” McLeod said.

All the shots Cascade missed through the first three quarters, started to fall in the fourth. Cascade hit 7-of-14 field goals (4-of-8 three pointers) from the field in the quarter. A large portion of those points came from 5-foot-2 guard Gina Delos Reyes. The sophomore scored 12 of her game-high 23 in the final four minutes of the game, banking in a three with 18 seconds left to pull Cascade to within its closest margin of eight.

“If they’re missing it can get kind of ugly, but if they’re hitting it can make you really nervous,” McLeod said.

Despite the late run, Cascade got no closer than the eight points, and OHHS was still left feeling good about its performance.

“We really wanted to come out with a win because it was our first league game,” Smollack said. “Everybody just stayed positive and we were really aggressive this time.”

Along with Smollack, senior Krystal Rousselle had a strong game for Oak Harbor, scoring 16 points, while sophomore Janay Baeyen added a varsity career-high of seven.

The Wildcats are now 1-0 in the WesCo North and 1-2 overall.

Competition won’t get any easier for Oak Harbor as it takes on three of the toughest teams in the league over their next three games. OHHS is on the road tonight at Snohomish, on the road Friday at Monroe and plays at home at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21 against Lake Stevens.

“It’s not going to be easy,” McLeod said.

Cascade 3 9 11 25 —48

Oak Harbor 17 15 8 16 — 56

Scoring: Oak Harbor-Smollack 19, Rousselle 16, Baeyen 7, Jenkins 5, Brundidge 4, Thiel 4, Russell 1. Cascade-Delos Reyes 23, Naylor 9, Gross 5, Leander 3, Condotta 2, Owens 2, Von Hoerschelmann 2, Morris 1, Nelson 1. JV score: Oak Harbor 33, Cascade 31.

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