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Oona hardly sheepish

Gonzaga Prep’s Oona Harrington, whose first name means “little lamb,” has worked on improving her competitiveness as a junior. (Jesse Tinsley)
Gonzaga Prep’s Oona Harrington, whose first name means “little lamb,” has worked on improving her competitiveness as a junior. (Jesse Tinsley)

Harrington comes out of shell to lead G-Prep

Her name means “little lamb,” but Gonzaga Prep basketball player Oona Harrington has been anything but that this season.

Especially in the postseason.

Meek and quiet by nature, the 5-foot-11 Harrington has filled a big role this season for the state-bound Bullpups. She usually guards the opponents’ best post player. And she’s more than doubled her scoring average from a year ago.

The junior is in her third year as a starter. Last year, she averaged 4.4 points per game. This season she’s at 9.0 – but she’s stepped up significantly in the postseason. In three games, she’s averaging 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. She’s also shooting 51 percent from the field.

“She’s silent but deadly,” junior guard Laura Stockton said.

“There will be times when she will make your jaw drop,” Bullpups coach Mike Arte said.

Last year, though, Harrington largely deferred to her teammates.

“I didn’t contribute as much as I could have last year,” she said. “This year there are more times when they needed me and I’ve definitely stepped up.”

Watch Harrington on the court and you’ll never know whether the Bullpups are winning or losing. She’s as stoic as they come.

“I’ve improved my competitiveness both physically and mentally,” she said. “At times last year I didn’t engage as much.”

Arte has greatly appreciated Harrington’s growth this season.

“She’s becoming better and better all the time,” Arte said. “She’s one of those basketball players that continues on an upward climb. She didn’t have the strength to go with her body as a freshman and sophomore.”

Arte believes her best basketball will come well after high school.

“She’s going to be a really great player when she’s 20 years old,” Arte said. “She has a high growth potential. She has a basketball body with long arms.”

The Bullpups (22-1) open the State 4A tournament this morning at the Tacoma Dome against Skyview of Vancouver. Tipoff is at 10:30.

Arte knows Harrington must have a big role in the Bullpups’ state success.

“She’s by far our most improved player this year,” Arte said. “She’s being more aggressive and looking for her shot.”

Harrington is a standout in the classroom, where she carries a 3.85 grade-point average. Ivy League schools Dartmouth and Princeton have shown interest. More is sure to come this spring and summer.

In practice, Harrington is apt to be more aggressive, Arte said.

“She’s competitive in her own way,” Arte said. “Her and Otiona (Gildon) get into some massive competitive drills in practice and bang on each other. Some girls don’t like to hear this but we like tough kids, kids who can handle being pushed around.”

Part of Harrington’s easygoing approach last year was largely tied to her personality, Arte suspects.

“She wasn’t the big wheel on the team,” he said. “She’s come out of that shell and that’s helped her on the basketball court.”

The Bullpups are headed to Tacoma with one thing in a mind – bringing back the gold ball, symbolic of a state title.

“We need to sharpen a few things up,” Harrington said. “We’re focusing this week on the things that we’ve been messing up. In the first game we need to go out hard and focus on the goal that we have.”

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