Cascade hangs on for a narrow victory

Cascade coach Kevin Rohrich let out a deep breath and wiped his brow when the final buzzer sounded.

He knew his Bruins, second place in the Western Conference North and ranked the 11th best 4A team by, escaped a major upset when they held off last place Oak Harbor, 71-65, Tuesday night.

“We had to battle, scrap and we were very fortunate to come out of here with a victory,” Rohrich said.

Oak Harbor, which is 1-12 overall, had two nine-point leads over Cascade (11-3) in the first half and led the Bruins 32-30 at halftime.

It was some of the same mistakes that plagued the Wildcats all season, however, which haunted them in the second half.

Two minutes into the third quarter, Cascade forced two Oak Harbor turnovers — OHHS only had three total in the first half. Both bad passes resulted in easy buckets from guard Dirk Snel and the Bruins’ first lead of the game, 36-34. Cascade never gave up its advantage after that.

“Those back-to-back turnovers led to layups,” OHHS head coach Bryan Schulle said. “We came out of the locker room just saying ‘no layups.’”

The Bruins continued to get easy shots, many of which came off of eight second-half turnovers. Cascade also received a key effort from guard Chris Hilliard who hit nearly everything he heaved up. Hilliard scored a season-high 24 points, but had 20 of those in the second half. The hot shooting led the Bruins to their largest lead of nine, 56-47 with 4:32 remaining.

OHHS didn’t give up. It closed the deficit to four, 61-57, with 2:10 left, but could get no closer.

His team’s never-give-up attitude continues to please Schulle.

“This group is going to keep working hard,” he said. “Anybody can say what they want, but they can’t question their effort.”

Oak Harbor built its early leads via focused shooting. The Wildcats knocked down their first five shots in the first quarter for an 11-2 advantage. Chris Hughes, Marshall Lobbestael and Will Hunter all had big shots in that run.

The Wildcats took their second nine-point lead of the game with 5:15 left in the second quarter after a three pointer from junior James Leach.

Oak Harbor was led by sophomore Rodrick Rumble with 11 points and Leach with 10. Cascade’s 6-foot-8 post Marcus Guffey added to Hilliard’s strong performance with 22 points of his own. Guffey scored 18 of those in the first half, most via short-range jump shots.

Oak Harbor played at first place Snohomish (13-1) last night and travels to Monroe, Tuesday, Jan. 31. The Wildcats’ only win this season came against the Bearcats (5-8) on Dec. 16.

Cascade 14 16 18 23 — 71

Oak Harbor 17 15 11 22 — 65

Scoring: Oak Harbor-Rumble 11, Leach 10, Hughes 9, Lobbestael 8, Schulle 8, Hunter 7, Heidt 6, Lopez 6. Cascade-Hilliard 24, Guffey 22, Matson 14, Snel 7, Carter 4.

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