Wildcats win purple title

Left along, Jessica Denmon scores. Denmon had 18 points on Friday against Puyallup and hit for a game-high 29 points in Saturday
Left along, Jessica Denmon scores. Denmon had 18 points on Friday against Puyallup and hit for a game-high 29 points in Saturday's championship game over Yelm.
— image credit: Tim Adams / Whidbey News-Times

Mother nature cooperated for the girls half of Oak Harbor High School’s Santa Slam.

Unlike the abbreviated boys tournament, the two-day girls’ division of the event that featured 24 varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams, was played almost without a hitch.

Beginning Friday, Jan. 2, and ending Jan. 3, the tournament was a successful one for the host Wildcats who won the purple championship of the double-tiered varsity bracket.

Friday evening, Oak Harbor defeated Puyallup 57-45 and then came back Saturday evening to pull out a nail biting 66-62 victory over Yelm.

The victories upped the Wildcats’ season record to 4-1 and gets the team all primed and ready to return to WesCo North league games.

Oak Harbor 66, Yelm 62

Saturday’s championship game against the Yelm Tornadoes started out as an Oak Harbor runaway.

Jessica Denmon scored 12 first quarter points for the Wildcats and teammate Jennifer Jansen added eight, as Oak Harbor built a commanding 26-7 lead in the first eight minutes of action.

However, the game progressed, the 19-point Oak Harbor lead melted away nearly as fast as the recent snow has done.

“It was really scary for awhile,” coach Brett McLeod said. “It’s a good thing we had that big lead, because we didn’t play well at all down the stretch.”

Yelm got hot from the floor in the second quarter outscoring the Wildcats 21-11 and by halftime, the lead was shaved to 11 points, 38-27.

As the Tornadoes continued to chip away at the lead and heading into the final period, Oak Harbor was hanging on with a 50-42 advantage.

“We ran into a little bit of a wall,” McLeod said. “Yelm just kept playing and shooting and all of a sudden, they were right back into the game.”

A basket by Yelm’s Alysha McCloud with 7:11 remaining trimmed the lead to four points, but then Denmon caught fire once again.

The junior point guard scored seven straight points, and when Cori Henricksen hit a basket at the 4:37 mark, Oak Harbor was breathing a little easier with a 59-46 lead.

However, the Tornadoes battled back once again with a pair of 3-point baskets by Austin Schorno and a hoop by McCloud, but the Wildcats managed to run the clock out and claim the championship trophy.

“Tonight was a good thing for us to learn. We’ve just got to get better in situations,” McLeod said.

Denmon scored a game-high 29 points to pace Oak Harbor and Jansen added 15. Henricksen was the third player in double figures with 11 points.

“We picked up the intensity a bit after we were a little down and got some shots,” Jansen said. “We wanted the trophy and we got it.”

Amber Zawislak scored 13 points for Yelm and Savanna Seabourn had 12.

Oak Harbor 57, Puyallup 45

Not playing since Dec. 12 due to having several games rescheduled because of inclement weather would make most teams a bit rusty, but that wasn’t the case in Friday’s opening game of the tournament.

The Wildcats took a two-point, 15-13, lead after the first quarter of action against Puyallup, but then outscored the Vikings 18-8 in the second period to hold a comfortable 33-21 halftime lead.

“We got off and played well in the first half,” McLeod said. “They are a quality team that went to state last year.”

Denmon scored seven of her team-high 18 points in the first quarter and Nicole Mowbray hit six of her 12 points in the second period as the Wildcats took command.

“It was a good effort from everybody,” Denmon said. “We got on the boards and rebounded well.”

Oak Harbor continued its consistent scoring in the second half putting 12 points on the board in each of the third and fourth quarters to advance to the championship game in the purple division.

Henricksen and Jansen were part of the Wildcats’ balanced scoring attack hitting nine points each.

“We were excited to play because we haven’t played in so long and we had a lot of energy tonight,” Henricksen said.

Heidi Boettcher hit a game-high 20 points for Puyallup.

“They got back in the game a little bit, but we played well enough to get the victory and advance to the championship round,” McLeod said.

In the gold bracket, Archbishop Murphy from the Cascade Conference defeated Wenatchee 54-37 in Friday’s opening round and came back Saturday with a 64-33 victory over Anacortes to win the championship.

Sultan knocked off Puyallup 52-44 for a third-place finish in the purple division and Wenatchee topped Skyview for third place in the gold division.

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