Coming up one rally short, the Oak Harbor High School boys basketball team fell 79-65 to visiting South Whidbey Friday, Dec. 13.
The Wildcats (1-3) gave the unbeaten Falcons (5-0) their first real test of the season. South Whidbey defeated its first four foes by an average of 41 points.
Each time the South Whidbey jumped to a sizable lead, Oak Harbor responded, but the Wildcats ran out of time as the Falcons finished the game with a flurry.
“I’m very happy,” Oak Harbor coach Nate Sullivan said after the game. “We didn’t quit. We lost, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”
The young Wildcats have only one varsity player returning from last season; South Whidbey returns four starters and all but two from last year’s squad.
The Falcons came out hot, hitting their first five shots to take an 11-3 lead. Oak Harbor mounted its first rally, going up 16-14 behind two hoops from Will Rankin and two buckets and an assist from Gage McLeod.
South Whidbey regained control to lead 21-17 at the end of the fast-paced first quarter.
The Falcons continued to pull away, going up by as many as 17, 40-23, in the second period. A McLeod hoop and two by Mason Myers helped Oak Harbor narrow the gap to 12, 40-32, at the break.
South Whidbey led by 13, 48-35, in the third quarter when Oak Harbor rallied again. Matt Kelley, Kaito White, Myers and Rankin all scored as the Wildcats sliced the gap to three, 48-45, with 2:21 remaining in the period.
The Falcons led 55-48 going into the fourth.
Oak Harbor fell behind by 11 in the final period, then trimmed it to 6, but could get no closer. The Falcons finished the game on a 12-6 run to secure the win.
“It was a battle,” South Whidbey coach Greg Turcott said. “Oak Harbor came out and played great in the second half. It was one of those games where it shows what you are made of.”
McLeod scored 20 points for Oak Harbor. Kelly had 16, Rankin 12, Myers 10, Brock Boyer 6 and White 3.
Sterling Patton poured in 34 for the Falcons, including hitting eight three-pointers.