Unable to completely erase a 20-point deficit, the Oak Harbor High School boys basketball team lost 82-75 to visiting Arlington in a game that featured high-octane offense Friday, Jan. 19.
The Eagles led 57-37 a minute into the second half, then Oak Harbor worked its way back into the game, getting to within 8, 67-59 by the end of the third period.
The Wildcats, however, couldn’t get closer than 7 the rest of the way, and the Eagles hung on to avoid the upset.
Arlington is now 5-2 in conference play, 11-5 overall. Oak Harbor dipped to 1-7 and 3-13.
The Eagles blistered the net early, hitting its first five shots, all three-pointers. Their first seven field goals were from beyond the arc and they led 25-20 at the end of the first quarter. Josh Gutierrez knocked down four of the bombs to pace the Eagles.
Dorian Hardin scored 9 first-quarter points to help the Wildcats stay in the game.
Arlington added four more three-balls in the second quarter, two by Gutierrez, and upped its lead to 53-36 at the break behind 12 points from Anthony Whitis.
The Eagles buried 11 three-point shots in the first half, but connected on only one after halftime.
Oak Harbor outscored Arlington 23-14 in the third period to get back into the game. Hardin pumped in 12 points in the quarter and the Wildcats made eight of 12 free throws.
Free throw shooting, however, haunted Oak Harbor in the end. The Wildcats missed 17 (20-for-37); Arlington wasn’t any better, going 12-for-21.
In all, the fast-paced game featured 45 fouls.
Hardin’s three-point bucket got Oak Harbor within 7, 73-66, with 3:20 left in the game, but the Wildcats would get no closer as the teams traded hoops and free throws the rest of the way.
Whitis finished with 29 points and Gutierrez had 20.
Hardin tallied 26 for the Wildcats; Haven Brown had 16, Gabe Salinger 9, Gavin Allen 8, Weston Whitefoot 5, Kevin Schuldt 4, Terrell Crumpton 3, Ozell Jackson 2 and Austin Boesch 2.
After giving up 53 points in the first half, Oak Harbor limited the Eagles to 29 after the break. Coach John Weston called that second-half defensive effort “one of the best of the season.”
He added that his team’s shot selection was also the best this year and resulted in plenty of “quality shots.”
Turnovers have been an issue for the Wildcats this season, but Friday they “did a good job handling the pressure,” Weston said.
“We got good energy from the team, especially Weston, Kevin and Haven,” he added.
Oak Harbor hosts Marysville Getchell (1-6, 5-10) at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.