Sports

Wildcats’ duo subdues Eagles girls basketball

Eagles senior Jessica Van Loo, right, was one of the players charged with stopping Oak Harbor’s Jessica Denmon, left. - Travis Sherer
Eagles senior Jessica Van Loo, right, was one of the players charged with stopping Oak Harbor’s Jessica Denmon, left.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

OAK HARBOR — Things got a little more complicated for the Lady Eagles.

In a game of missed opportunities, perhaps the most prevalent was in the standings, as the 67-53 Wesco North loss to Oak Harbor Feb. 3 forced Arlington into a dog fight for a playoff spot.

“We just missed some really close shots and we were out-rebounded,” said Arlington coach Nathan Davis. “Oak Harbor is scrappy. They box out and crash the boards.”

Oak Harbor’s 42-34 advantage on the boards marks just the third time this season Arlington has been beat on the glass — and ironically the second by a Wildcat team that is at a significant height disadvantage.

But what Oak Harbor lacked in height, it made up for in ferocity, behind senior guard Jessica Denmon’s game-high 30 points. Making matters worse was Demon’s partner in crime, Nicole Mowbray, who added 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Arlington struggled with keeping those two under control, trying a different strategy each quarter, starting with a straight man-to-man defense. It worked for the first 10 minutes and the Eagles opened up a 19-14 advantage, but the pace quickened and Oak Harbor’s speed exploited it, running up a 33-26 halftime advantage.

Not helping matters was Oak Harbor’s attack on offense which led to 30 free throw attempts in the game, many of which came from their top two scorers.

“You’re just gambling with whatever you try when it comes to those two,” Davis said of Denmon and Mowbray. “We threw everything we could at them.”

A condensed press isolated between the free throw lines slowed down Oak Harbor’s game, revealing what may be it’s weakness: time. The longer the Wildcats took to shoot, the more disoriented an impatient they became, resulting in a 17-6 Eagles run in the third and fourth quarters to make the score 49-57. But that was the closest they would get.

“The press worked better, and maybe we should have used it earlier, but you know — hindsight,” Davis said.

The loss puts Arlington (9-8 overall, 6-7 Wesco North) in a three-way fight for fourth place, which earns the final District 1 tournament spot. Fifth place gets a play-in game with the South’s No. 4 team. Oak Harbor (7-6 Wesco) now inhabits fourth place while Snohomish is tied with Arlington for fifth.

Quinn Kesselring led the Eagles with 11 points, and Davis praised reserve Carlee Duncan for her play in the first half.

“Carlee hit some huge shots for us early on to keep us ahead,” Davis said.

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