Girls Basketball: Oak Harbor stops Cascade with stingy defense

A strong defensive effort lifted the Oak Harbor High School girls basketball team over visiting Cascade 37-33 Wednesday.

The win enabled the Wildcats to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. Oak Harbor, 5-4 in league and 8-5 overall, moved into a fourth-place tie with Arlington. The top four teams move on to the district tournament; the fifth-place team will meet the Wesco South's fourth-place team in a play-in game to qualify for district.

After the Cascade game, a fan commented to Oak Harbor coach Brett McLeod that only four of his players had scored. McLeod responded with "but they all played defense." That they did.

The Wildcats held Cascade to just 11 second-half points to pick up the come-from-behind win. Oak Harbor limited Bruin star Danielle Love to just eight points, nine less than her season average. The 6-2 Love, who has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Oregon next year, was shut out by the Oak Harbor defense in the second half.

Cascade was one of the preseason favorites according to the coaches' poll, but struggled out of the gate and lost its first six league games, three of which Love missed for disciplinary reasons. When she returned, the Bruins knocked off previously undefeated Monroe and Stanwood, then went toe-to-toe with first-place Marysville-Pilchuck last week before losing.

Cascade carried the momentum of its recent efforts into the beginning of the Oak Harbor contest. The Bruins opened a 10-point lead late in the first quarter and led 22-15 at the half.

Eighteen of Cascade's 22 points came off six 3-pointers. Oak Harbor's Jessica Denmon hit three 3's of her own to keep the Wildcats close.

With the Bruins up 25-17 with 5:15 left in the third quarter, Oak Harbor went on a 12-0 run to take the lead.

Denmon scored twice off turnovers and hit two free throws, Clarissa Abedesco added two hoops and Nicole Mowbray ended the run with a steal and layup with 42 seconds left in the period.

Cascade eventually tied the game at 33 with 3:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, but two buckets by Mowbray ended the scoring win 1:37 left.

Oak Harbor had turnovers on its next two possessions, but its defense, led by two blocks down the stretch by Adrianna Royal, shut down the Bruins' come back bid.

Denmon ended the night with 17 points, Mowbray 12, Abedesco six and Jessica James two.

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