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Basketball: Oak Harbor girls battle Arlington for playoff spot Wednesday
Oak Harbor's girls basketball team hosts Arlington Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in a game with major playoff implications.
The Wildcats (6-6, 9-7) and Eagles have identical records and are tied for fourth place in the Western Conference North. Four teams automatically qualify for the district tournament.
The division's fifth-place team has to play a loser-out game with the Wesco South's fourth-place team to advance to district.
As Oak Harbor coach Brett McLeod simply put, the Wildcat-Eagle contest is a "huge game."
Marysville-Pilchuck (11-2, 13-4) and Monroe (10-3, 13-4) are the North's top two teams. Lake Stevens (9-4, 12-5) solidified its hold onto third place by defeating Oak Harbor 49-42 here last Friday, Jan. 29.
Several other Wesco North teams below Oak Harbor and Arlington are still mathematically in the playoff race with Snohomish (5-7, 6-10) lurking just one game back in sixth with four games left.
Two other factors make an Oak Harbor win over Arlington Wednesday paramount. One, Arlington defeated Oak Harbor 54-50 Jan. 5, and should the Eagles defeat the 'Cats again, they would hold the tie-breaker over Oak Harbor should the teams finish tied at the end of the league season.
Second, Arlington has an easier schedule after the Oak Harbor game. The Eagles finish out the season playing three teams below it in the standings: Cascade (3-9, 4-12), Everett (2-11, 3-14) and Snohomish.
Two of Oak Harbor's remaining games are at home against league-leaders Marysville-Pilchuck and Monroe. The Wildcats also go to Stanwood (4-8, 7-10) this Friday, Feb. 5.
In the first meeting against Arlington, the Eagles used a balanced scoring attack to defeat Oak Harbor. Ten different Arlington players scored, led by Ginny Wilson's 16 points.
Oak Harbor got 24 points from Jessica Denmon and 20 from Nicole Mowbray. Only two other 'Cats scored, each with three points.
Oak Harbor missed out on a chance to jump ahead of Arlington in the standings when it lost at home to Lake Stevens.
The Wildcats fell behind by 10 points against the Vikings then battled their way back. By half they were within four, 24-20, then eventually overtook Lake Stevens early in the second half.
Oak Harbor built its own five-point lead in the third, but the Vikings even the score at 34 heading into the final period.
Lake Stevens pressured Oak Harbor into a bundle of turnovers in the decisive fourth to pull away.
Miscues bugged Oak Harbor all night as the Wildcats racked up 18 turnovers to the Vikings' 11.
McLeod said the difference in the game was that Lake Stevens seemed to "capitalized on the other end every time we turned it over."
Although Oak Harbor lost the game, it got an outstanding rebounding effort from Denmon. The Oak Harbor guard, just 5-6, hauled in 20 rebounds. She also scored 13 points.
Mowbray put up 15 points and nabbed eight rebounds.
Clarissa Abadesco scored six points, Janelle Yoshimoto five and Emilie Renninger three.
Brooke Pahukoa scored 16 for the Vikings and Stephanie Schumaker drained four 3-pointers for her 12 points.