OC women part of NWAACC logjam

The Olympic College women needed this win.

They needed it for momentum. The squad needed the victory to end the first half of league play on a good note. But more than anything, OC needed this win to keep it’s title hopes alive.

The Lady Rangers’ 46-43 win over Bellevue at home on Wednesday put OC in a five-way tie atop the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s North Division.

OC, now 12-6 (5-3 in divisional play), needed some last-second free throws to seal the win, but that doesn’t matter to coach Megan Murray.

“That was a really good game for us,” Murray said. “That’s definitely a win we needed. We came out in the second half and got some things done.”

Trailing 27-19 at the end of the first half, OC fell behind in the physical contest thanks to unforced errors, with most of the team’s 24 turnovers coming in the first frame.

Bellevue’s Luv Rattler and co. also starting hitting from outside, with Rattler draining a three with two minutes left that put the Bulldogs (11-8, 5-3) up by eight, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the first half.

“We picked it up in the second half,” Murray said. “That’s what we told them. Be more aggressive and be willing to attack more. We did that.”

OC came out gunning, overcomnig Bellevue to take a 33-32 lead with 8:38 remaining. The team’s went back and forth the rest of the way, as neither squad led by more than three for the remainder of the contest.

With just more than a minute remaining, OC went up 43-41 on a free throw by sophomore Brittany Milne. Bellevue’s Nicci Landdeck tied it up with a nice putback on the other end however with just 20.5 seconds to go. Landdeck led Bellevue with a game-high 17 points.

Lady Ranger Stephanie Kirkendoll, a freshman out of Port Townsend, hit three clutch free throws down the stretch, the last coming with 15 seconds left to put OC up 46-43. Landdeck couldn’t will a victory however, as a buzzer-beating three-pointer missed to end the game.

Setting up the first of Kirkendoll’s freethrows was a huge offensive board by post Lexi Paoli, also a former Redskin.

“That was a huge rebound,” Murray said. “That put them into a position where they had to hit a three-point shot instead of a two.”

Paoli was big on the boards all night, finishing with eight rebounds and six points.

Scoring was evenly spread, as Kayla Parades and Sharon Daly each scored eight.

OC will play Bellevue again on the road in the final NWAACC contest of the season. Murray said that may give the Bulldogs a little more incentive.

“We’ve got to go to their place next time,” Murray said. “It’s always easier to look forward to playing a team that beat you at home.”

OC hosts North Seattle at 5:30 p.m. tonight at home.

Men’s basketball

The Ranger men came out of the gates quick against Bellevue Wednesday, building a 24-15 lead with about 7 minutes to play in the first half.

But OC (12-8, 4-4) found out why Bellevue is No. 2 in the North Division first hand, as the Bulldogs rallied with a 10-2 run, trailing the Rangers 26-25 at the half.

“They kind of came out sluggish,” OC coach Billy Landrum said. “But we didn’t capitalize on our chances. They came back to ready to battle.”

The second-half was all Bellevue, as the Bulldogs outscored OC 47-31 the rest of the way.

While total team turnovers were similar (Bellevue committed 16 to OC’s 15), the Bulldogs had the edge on getting the ball back, with 12 steals. OC had just five.

“We’ve just got to refocus and play our game,” Landrum said. “We had good focus in the first half.”

OC’s Jason Simmons proved a powerful post however, scoring 20 points, several on tough basket shots that probably could have drawn fouls as well. Calvin Sayler added 15 for the Rangers.

Bellevue got great outside shooting from its big men, with 6-foot, 4-inch Paul Brockman, a freshman post, shooting 4-7 from behind the arc, finishing with a game-high 23. Brockman also added 8 boards. Speedy point guard Josh Lostlen also played well, scoring 16 with 6 assists.

Landrum agreed with Murray’s sentiment, saying this will put more emphasis on the late-season rematch.

“It makes it tougher,” he said. “We can do it, we just have to be ready to go.”

OC is now tied for fourth place in the North Division with Whatcom. Bellevue is now alone in second, a game behind 14-4 Peninsula (8-0). Landrum said he’s optimistic OC can turn it around in the second half of division play.

“We know our top three teams,” he said. “It wasn’t like we were coming into an easy situation. But there’s nobody in this league that’s unbeatable.”

OC’s men play at 7:30 p.m. tonight at home against North Seattle.

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