BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
OAK HARBOR — It was a tough way to end the season, but a loss can’t diminish what Oak Harbor accomplished this basketball season despite the Rockets (12-9) loss, 47-46, to Ashland Crestview in the Division III sectional final.
Holding a 46-45 lead late in the fourth quarter, Oak Harbor turned the ball over, leading to a layup for the Cougars. With nine seconds to play, the Rockets failed to get a shot off.
“The ball was in the hands of the kids that we needed it to be. We had the right players in the right positions,” said Oak Harbor coach Eric Sweet. “It didn’t end up in our favor, we were upset, but we had a great year with a lot of positives and a lot of success. A lot of that goes to the senior class.”
The Rockets led 7-4 after the first quarter and 20-15 at halftime, but Crestview (16-7) cut the deficit to 32-31 after three quarters.
“I think we missed some opportunities throughout the entire process of the game to make it into a bigger lead. We didn’t have a real good shooting night, but Brenan Ish made six 3-pointers,” said Sweet. “But Blake had an off-shooting night.”
Ish led all scorers with 19 points and Booker finished with 13.
Evan Hamilton had 16 points to lead the Cougars and Evan Gibbs scored 11.
It was the final game for Booker, Ish, Ryan Ridener, Collin Fauver and Max Hallett-Szymanski, five seniors who have meant a great deal to the program.
“It’s a great group of seniors. I think people had us for a losing record, and we finished with a 12-9 record and a 7-3 record in the league,” said Sweet. “The effort and the commitment of the seniors showed through. I don’t think there were a lot of people that thought we were going to do what we did this year.
“They all brought their own personalities to the team. They were willing to play the role the team needed them to be. They were very supportive of their teammates. The unselfishness provided us with success.”
The program has had four consecutive winnings seasons plus a sectional and a league title.
“I’m very excited about the state of the program. The last four years, we’ve had winning records and competed for league and sectional championships. We’re definitely trending in the right direction, we were blessed to have some seniors that have embraced the program,” said Sweet.
“We’ve been able to take a step forward, I’m very proud of where we are right now. We have to keep reloading. Our youth programs are looking good, down to the junior high. The program is headed in the right direction. It took time and effort by a lot of people, time and effort and sacrifice to put the program in front of themselves.”