ILWACO — Ilwaco High School’s June 23-25 “Battle at the Beach” boys and girls summer basketball tournament drew teams from around the region and beyond. Varsity and junior varsity games took place at the high school, Hilltop, and Long Beach Elementary. Hamburgers and hotdogs were for sale off the grill at the high school.
Ilwaco’s girls went 4-1, blowing out Heritage, Kalama, Seaside and Warrenton and losing 51-49 to Wahkiakum.
Kalama and Seaside have been among the region’s top teams in recent years, but both said goodbye to graduating stars. Ilwaco, meanwhile, trotted out a battle-tested senior trio of Makenzie Kaech, Madeline Jacobson and Eliza Bannister (the Fishermen’s other returning starter, Ebby McMullen, has been resting a bad knee during summer basketball.) This year’s Kalama team is just coming together, as it replaces eight seniors, including Parker Esary and Jordan Shipley, from the team that was runner-up at State in March. Seaside is adjusting to life without star Maddi Utti.
Ilwaco dispatched Seaside 41-18, then took care of Kalama 46-12. Against Kalama, Kaech and Bannister got the fast break offense going right away with steals, passes and layups. Players pursuing bigger roles this year also stepped up. Chandelle Thomas led Jacobson to the basket with a precise pass for an easy layup and three-point play opportunity for a 10-0 lead. Faith Simonson broke away for a layup for an 18-1 lead.
Wahkiakum, which beat Ilwaco in the third-place game at State in March, looks different this year after losing three starters, including Peyton Souvenir. They showed they remain dangerous in their victory over Ilwaco in the playoff portion of the tournament Sunday. Junior power forward Ellie Leitz showed impressive skills in the post. Freshman Paige Mace ran the point with confidence and showed unlimited shooting range.
Bannister opened scoring against Wahkiakum with a three-pointer, then a steal that led to a basket and a 5-1 lead. Another three by Bannister gave Ilwaco an 11-10 lead. Bannister ripped away another steal, then went on the attack on a one-on-one fast break, getting a three-point play to put Ilwaco ahead 15-12. Another steal and score by Bannister stretched the lead to 21-12.
Wahkiakum answered with a 20-4 run to go ahead 32-25 early in the second half. Kaech scored 18 of Ilwaco’s 24 points in the second half, powering her way to the basket repeatedly to keep the Fishermen in the game, but Ilwaco fell short 51-49.
Sunny Kemmer and freshman Ericka Glenn got significant playing time during the weekend; along with Thomas and Simonson, they got chances as Ilwaco searches for depth to replace the graduated Ellie Kulm and Isabel Benenati. Kemmer got Ilwaco’s win over Heritage started, coming up with a steal and passing to Bannister for a three-pointer that opened scoring.
The Fishermen boys beat Naselle, Castle Rock and Astoria, losing to Cashmere and Toledo. Daniel Whiting was in the starting lineup, along with the four returning players from last year’s rotation: Alex Kaino, Reese Tynkila, Tenyson Ramsey and John Glenn.
Tynkila scored 25 points in the 66-41 win over Naselle, 18 in the second half. Almost all his production came near the basket, where he was a matchup nightmare for the Comets’ front court. Whiting scored 14 points, including three three-pointers. Donny Edwards led Naselle with 16 points, getting into the lane throughout the game.
After a 31-point loss to Cashmere, Ilwaco beat Castle Rock, which pitted them against Astoria in the first playoff round Sunday.
With Kaino setting things up, Tynkila working inside and the team knocking down three-pointers, Ilwaco led Astoria 30-20 at halftime. In a 3-on-1 break, Kaino put some flair on a pass to Tynkila, who finished the play for a 45-30 lead. Astoria cut the lead to 51-48 inside two minutes to go. Kaino found Ethan Personius for a big shot with 53 seconds remaining for a 53-48 lead, and Ilwaco won it 55-48.
Toledo beat Ilwaco 62-49 in the second round, despite ten three-pointers by Ilwaco. Whiting made three three-pointers, including a four-point play.
After their loss to Ilwaco, Naselle made an upset bid against eventual tournament runner-up Cashmere. The teams couldn’t stop each other in the first half, as Cashmere ran up and down the court and the Comets knocked down six three-pointers and ran their offense effectively.
Edwards broke on the ball to intercept a Cashmere pass near its own basket, glided to the hoop and converted a three-point play to tie it at 21, then hit a three-pointer to give the Comets a 24-23 lead. With the half winding down, Edwards held for the last shot, then blew by a defender with seven seconds to go for a 39-37 Comet lead going into halftime.
Antonio Nolan’s tough pull-up fade-away stretched Naselle’s lead to 44-35. Nolan’s deep step-back three boosted the lead to 52-46 inside five minutes to go. Nolan leapt for a defensive rebound and launched an outlet pass to Jacob Eaton to make it 54-46.
Cashmere bounced back to score the final 13 points of the game. Nolan leaned in to try to draw a foul shooting a three-pointer while down by four with 7.2 seconds left, but did not get the call.
Toledo beat Naselle 70-46 Sunday, in a game in which Donny Edwards injured his ankle in the closing seconds. Astoria then beat the Comets 49-30. Without Edwards, the Comets were heavily reliant in that game on Nolan, who scored 14 points.
The Comet girls lost 40-25 to Warrenton and 52-22 to Mabton. The Comets are building a new rotation after losing many key contributors to graduation. In Ilwaco they relied on Lilly Zimmerman, a talented junior power forward, and Taylor Gudmundsen, a junior wing who came back from a hip injury late last year and led the team in scoring in their season-ending playoff loss to Neah Bay.
Against Warrenton, Naselle trailed only 31-25 with 3:16 to play before the Warriors pulled away. Zimmerman showed an expanded offensive game, getting the ball regularly and sometimes playing further from the basket than the Comets have needed her to in the past. She led the team in scoring with seven points.
Against Mabton, Gudmundsen got going early. She scored on an assist from Zimmerman and then hit a three-pointer, putting the Comets ahead 5-0. She blocked a three-pointer in the early minutes. Late in the half, Zimmerman got open under the basket for a reverse layup. Gudmundsen followed with another three, which cut Mabton’s lead to 23-16. Mabton then took advantage of Comets turnovers and broke the game open with an 11-0 run. Gudmundsen had ten points and two blocks to lead Naselle.