’Cats drop heartbreaker

Mike Washington Jr. takes the ball to the basket to score two of his game-high 17 points in Tuesday’s loss to Snohomish.  - Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times
Mike Washington Jr. takes the ball to the basket to score two of his game-high 17 points in Tuesday’s loss to Snohomish.
— image credit: Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times

Close, so very close.

The beginning of the 2008 boys basketball season has been a rocky one for Oak Harbor High School.

Winless in three starts, coach Mike Washington’s squad hosted Snohomish Tuesday evening in a WesCo North league game and for a time, loyal home-town fans had the feeling the Wildcats had broken out of their early-season slump.

Oak Harbor held a 33-29 halftime lead and with 3:41 remaining in the third period, had upped the margin to 10 points, 42-32.

After that point, the Wildcats managed to put the ball in the basket just three additional times and lost a 2-point, 50-48, decision to the Panthers.

“We played hard, it was a tough one to swallow,” Washington said.

The Wildcats opened the game playing smart, aggressive basketball holding leads of 10-5 and 18-11, before Snohomish trimmed the margin to 19-16 after the first eight minutes of action.

Late in the second period, Oak Harbor was up by six points, before a basket by Brian Ortiz from Snohomish cut the lead back to four at the break.

Oak Harbor tallied nine-straight points in the third quarter to build what appeared to be a commanding lead, only to have the Panthers put together a 9-1 run to keep the score close.

Heading into the final period of play, Oak Harbor maintained a four point, 44-40, lead.

At the 2:51 mark of the fourth quarter, Trent VandenBosch hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line to tie the score for the first time.

With just one minute remaining, Reed Pecha knocked down the game winner to give Snohomish the victory.

Oak Harbor had a chance as time ran down, but a shot rimmed out at the buzzer.

“We got tired in the fourth quarter,” Washington said. “That matchup zone they play is tough.”

The Wildcats had three players score in double figures led by freshman Mike Washington Jr., who hit for a game-high 17 points. Teammates Jay Stout and Beaux Haley scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Wolfe paced the Panthers with 14 points and Pecha had 13.

“We’re going to get one eventually. It’s only a matter of time,” coach Washington said.

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