Girls Basketball: Oak Harbor tops Arlington, closes in on playoff spot

Although his team never led by fewer than eight points in the second half, Oak Harbor girls basketball coach Brett McLeod said he never felt "comfortable" in the Wildcats' 67-53 win over Arlington here Wednesday.

Uncomfortable as it was, the win helped Oak Harbor (7-6, 10-7) break a tie for fourth place in the Wesco North with Arlington (6-7, 9-8) with three regular season games left.

The top four teams automatically qualify for the district tournament.

Senior guard Jessica Denmon helped ease some of McLeod's worries by pouring in 31 points to keep the Wildcat offense humming. Nicole Mowbray chipped in with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

The key to the offensive effort, however, may have been Janelle Yoshimoto. Denmon and Mowbray have, for the most part, been the Oak Harbor offense all year as their teammates have struggled to score. Yoshimoto added 11 points for a rare double-digit game by someone other than Denmon and Mowbray.

Clarissa Abadesco scored six points and Shantae Young two to round out the scoring.

Only five 'Cats scored and only seven saw action. By contrast, all 12 Eagles played and scored. Quinn Kesselring led the Eagles with 11 points.

Oak Harbor trailed 21-16 with 6:35 left in the first half and then took off. The Wildcats outscored Arlington 17-5 and led at the half 33-26.

When Yoshimoto hit a three with 3:33 left in the third quarter, the lead grew to 18, 48-30.

Even with the big deficit, Arlington never appeared out of the game, thus McLeod uneasiness.

Oak Harbor was scoring at a high clip. The 'Cats average 46 points a game and five times this year have scored in the 30s. McLeod knew his club was prone to cold streaks and could stop scoring at any time.

McLeod also knew Arlington could explode at any moment. The Eagles were finding soft spots in the center of the Oak Harbor zone as well as frequently getting the ball to the block. However, the Eagles struggled to consistently connect on those scoring chances.

In addition, the Eagles started pressing. While the Wildcats did not often turn the ball over, they never looked confident in handling the pressure and were shaky with the ball.

And, to make matters worse for Oak Harbor, Denmon picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter and Mowbray her fourth with 6:37 left in the game.

The Eagles cut the lead to eight, 55-47, with 3:05 left but would get no closer as Oak Harbor hit 10 of 16 fourth quarter free throws.

In all Oak Harbor was 20-31 from the line; Arlington 6-13.

McLeod said, "Our offense played as well as we possibly could." The 67 points were a season high; the previous high was 59.

He added, "This one's a relief. We will take it. I just didn't feel comfortable during the game."

Oak Harbor goes to Stanwood (4-9, 7-11) Friday, Feb. 5.

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