Wildcats stun Timberwolves

Nicole Mowbray - File photo
Nicole Mowbray
— image credit: File photo

Two years of opening round frustration in the Class 4A District 1 tournament came to an end Wednesday night for the Oak Harbor Wildcats.

In the opening round of the district in 2007 and again last year, Oak Harbor came up on the short end of the score against the top-seeded Jackson Timberwolves.

This time around the Cats proved beyond a doubt that the third time is truly the charm, when junior Nicole Mobray hit a game-deciding put-back shot with less than three seconds remaining in the game to give Oak Harbor a 52-51 victory.

Some people might think the game was an upset victory, but Oak Harbor coach Brett McLeod has said all season long that when the team plays hard and plays smart they are one of the best squads in the league.

“We got off to a fast start in the game, that was one of our first goals,” McLeod said.

The Wildcats played right with Jackson and either held the lead or were close throughout the first half before the Timberwolves got hot from the floor in the third period.

Jackson outscored Oak Harbor 21-11 in the third period and the Wildcats went into the final eight minutes of the contest down by eight points.

“We kind of had to weather the storm in the third period when they went up by eight points on us,” McLeod said. “We picked it up in the fourth quarter and that’s what won it for us.”

The fourth quarter was when Jennifer Jansen went to work for the Wildcats. The senior knocked down eight points over a 5-minute span when the Wildcats went on a 12-2 run to take a 47-45 lead.

Jansen finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds.

McLeod said Jansen and Mowbray combined for 15 of the team’s 17 points in the fourth quarter

After Chanel Sam gave the Timberwolves a one point, 51-50 lead, McLeod called a time out and set up a play to give Jansen a chance down low to put the game away.

The play worked as planned; however, Jansen’s shot sailed over the rim. But Mowbray was right there to bury the game-winner.

“It was a prayer shot,” Mowbray said. “Jen threw it up with two hands and I don’t think it even touched rim. I got a clear shot at the backboard, so I aimed, shot and prayed to God it went in.”

She said McLeod jumped about five feet in the air when her shot went down.

Mowbray finished with 13 points and Jessica Danmon scored a game-high 18 points.

McLeod said he thought being familiar with the facility at Jackson High School was one of the keys to victory.

“This is the third time we’ve been there and I think the kids that have been around knew the whole situation,” he said. “They knew where the locker room was, they knew how the gym was situated and how the atmosphere was going to be. I think that experience helped us a lot.”

Oak Harbor’s next step in its quest for a state playoff berth is at 8 p.m. today at Marysville-Pilchuck High School against Kamiak.

“We’re headed to state, I can tell you that right now,” Mowbray said.

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