Winter prep preview / Oak Harbor girls basketball

With a handful of players who logged extensive minutes last year returning, the Oak Harbor High School girls basketball is looking to climb up the Wesco standings.

Among the returnees are some of the Wildcats’ most talented players from last year. Junior post Jasmine Ford was named Oak Harbor’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017-18, while junior wing Mikhaela Cortez received the Defensive Player of the Year honor. Also back is last year’s Most Improved Player award winner senior wing Emily Gouge.

Other returning letter winners are seniors guard Miranda Wilson, wing Sam Olson and post Rosa Simpliciano, and juniors point guard Olivia Waite and post Madison Maxwell.

Key newcomers are senior guard Monique Stolmeier; juniors post Anna Jones, guard Sarah Mensah and point guard Kristanne Ballesteros; and freshman post Payton Parks.

One of the team’s strengths is its height, according to coach Jon Atkins, something the Wildcats haven’t been able to say in recent years. The Oak Harbor roster includes five players 5-9 or taller.

Atkins also likes the team’s athleticism, which, coupled with the height, should help the Wildcats “get out and run and take some advantages down low.”

Atkins’ biggest concern is the lack of experience on the varsity bench.

“Our role players have some great opportunities to grow,” he said.

The primary goal for the season, Atkins said, is to be competitive and improve on last season when Oak Harbor posted a 4-16 record, 1-11 in league play.

The conference, Atkins noted, should be tougher this year with the addition of Cedarcrest and Archbishop Murphy.

He added that he would like to see his players become more physical in the post and play better man-to-man defense without fouling.

“We are also trying to increase our fast break opportunities,” he said. “We have some additional length and quickness than we have had in years past, and we want to use that to our advantage.

“As a program, we are trying to work though our core values of love, lead and grow in everything we do while demonstrating PRIDE,” Atkins said.

PRIDE reflects the school motto of passion, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence.

Atkins likes where his program is heading, noting the strong turnout for the high school team and its feeder programs.

“I can start to see the changes in the right direction for girls basketball in Oak Harbor,” he said.

The results of last night’s home opener were not available at press time.

The Wildcats open at home against Lakewood at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27.