Behind a senior quartet that was intent on turning the basketball program around and leaving behind a legacy, the Oak Harbor Rockets lifted their win total from nine to 16 games this season.
After going 7-14 overall and 3-11 in the Sandusky Bay Conference last season, good for the seventh place, Oak Harbor rebounded to go 16-8 and 8-6 in the league, finishing fourth. On top of that, the Rockets finished the year on a high note, winning six straight games before falling to Port Clinton, 52-45, in a Division II Sectional Final on Feb. 23 at Sandusky High School.
The high point of the season came when Oak Harbor defeated Perkins, 39-38, in the Sectional Semifinals, a dramatic win that saw the Rockets rally from a nine-point deficit behind 17 points from freshman Andrea Cecil and 10 from senior Abbie Gezo.
Point guard Makayla Carpenter, a four-year letter winner, spoke about the importance of playing well and leaving behind a legacy for the younger classes.
“It's weird, honestly,” she said. “Coaches always talk about us leaving behind a legacy and how the four seniors will be remembered, and it just feels unreal. It's an honor and we seniors took pride in everything we have accomplished this year, and I hope that the following team and girls will continue what's being rebuilt. I have no doubt that the girls coming up and the ones staying have the means and the passion to do so.”
The four seniors Carpenter is referring to are Gezo, Maria Boers, Erin Bryant and herself. This season, they were led by first-year head coach Tom Kontak, a man who brought a 91-44 record with him after six seasons (2004-10) at Genoa.
Gezo, who averaged 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds, both first on the team, earned second-team district and SBC honors for her performance this season, Carpenter (8.3 pts, 2.5 rebs) was second-team all-district and honorable mention in the SBC and Boers (12.4 pts, 2.1 rebs) and Cecil (11.3 pts, 5.9 rebs) each were given honorable mention distinction in the league and the district.
Boers, who along with Gezo, Carpenter, Cecil, Bryant, Amanda Hetrick, Nikki Weis and Athena Eli rounded out the rotation for the Rockets, spoke about the accomplishments of the team.
“I'm very proud of every girl on our team,” Boers said. “I couldn't have asked for a better senior year. We worked hard all season long and it paid off. It feels good (knowing) that we left the program in such great shape. I just hope the girls below us keep it up!”
Despite the fact that Oak Harbor loses four of its top players, it will likely get Nikki Weis back from injury next season and has a few girls from the 8th-grade squad that won the SBC title who could see varsity action next year.
“I'm sad it's over because we were all having a great time,” Carpenter said. “We really hit some milestones along the way. Along the way, the memories and friendships I've made I'll never forget. It stinks that I only got to play with some girls like Andrea for one year, but overall, it was a great season.
“I have total confidence in the girls there and the ones moving up and wish them the best of luck next year.”