Jasmine Ford (22) returns after earning all-league honorable mention for Oak Harbor last year. (Photo by John Fisken)

Jasmine Ford (22) returns after earning all-league honorable mention for Oak Harbor last year. (Photo by John Fisken)

Winter prep preview / Oak Harbor girls basketball

With an experienced and a veteran roster, the Oak Harbor High School girls basketball team is aiming to flip some of the narrow losses from last season to the win column this winter.

“Our goal is to improve from last year,” coach Jon Atkins said. “We had a lot of close games that did not go our way. Our goal is to be better in those tight-game situations. We also want to increase our defensive pressure, creating more turnovers than last year.”

Atkins welcomes back a lineup that includes players who started most of games in 2018-19, including seniors Mikhaela Cortez, Jasmine Ford, Ana Jones and Olivia Waite; and sophomores Tiana Jackson, Payton Parks and Grace Waite.

Ford was an all-league honorable mention selection last season and the team’s offensive MVP; Cortez received the most valuable defensive player award last winter; and Grace Waite was the most improved.

Key newcomers, according to Atkins, are juniors Evelyn Osburn and Anabelle Thayer and sophomore Tara Guy.

“This team has played a lot of basketball together, and that will be one of the major strengths — that we play as a family,” Atkins said. “We are going to be tough on defense and continue to improve on our defense efficiency from last year.”

For the team to be successful, it will need to improve its three-point shooting, Atkins said. “The girls have been putting in a lot of work on their own, and that could become one of our strengths this year with the work that they have put in.”

Atkins expects his club to compete in every game and play with intensity.

“The girls have a better understanding of what we are trying to do both offensively and defensively, and our defensive and offensive efficiency numbers should be much better than they were last year,” he added.

Atkins noted that three “great coaches” have been added to his staff, C-team coach Amanda Respicio, varsity assistant and Oak Harbor alum Kelsey Rankin and volunteer assistant Danielle Atkins.

“I am excited to have a full staff that has a passion for basketball and are looking to make this a great program,” Jon Atkins said. “Our girls have been looking forward to getting this season started, they worked very hard this offseason, and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.”

Oak Harbor (3-17 last year) plays at the Mariner Jamboree at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and then returns to Mariner (2-17) for the first game at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

The first home game is 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, with Coupeville (9-10).