ILWACO — The Fishermen are coming off a second-place finish in the Pacific League, having gone 13-3 in league play and 16-4 overall in the regular season last year. The Fishermen lost twice to Central League opponents at Districts, but during the regular season they handily beat Evergreen 1A opponents Montesano and Elma. Last season completed a four-year rebuilding effort.
This year’s team faces roster turnover, but certainly isn’t starting from scratch, with four of eight rotation players returning.
At its best, Ilwaco beat its opponents down court to create easy baskets. They should have the roster to make that happen again this season. Speed demon point guard Alex Kaino keeps the pace up. Wing Tenyson Ramsey also excels as a passer in the open floor. He showed how disruptive he can be by forcing seven fourth-quarter turnovers to fuel Ilwaco’s playoff comeback against Northwest Christian. John Glenn has shooting range and chemistry with fellow juniors Kaino and Ramsey.
“We’ve been playing together a lot of years,” Kaino said of the junior class, adding “We can shoot, dribble, attack, defend, though we’re not the biggest team.”
Reese Tynkila, another junior, is an important weapon inside who helps give the team balance. In fact, he could emerge as the leading scorer this year, with the graduation of high-scoring forwards Zac Tapio and Robert Woods. Tynkila has skills in the post and stretches the floor with his shooting range. He presents many teams with a matchup problem, overpowering players inside and beating slower players off the dribble. Coach Tim Harrell also plans to turn to Jeb Sheldon and sophomore Joe Nisbett as options inside.
Harrell sees sophomore Calvin Baze emerging as another playmaker at guard. “He can handle the ball, he sees the floor. He has a very good feel and understanding for the game; he gives us a look we haven’t seen.”
Cross-country star Daniel Whiting, also a sophomore, will see more of the court this year, bringing his endless energy to the fast-break game.
Last year’s Pacific League had a clear hierarchy: Life Christian towered over everybody, Ilwaco and Chief Leschi battled for second place, and everyone else was a step or two below. Ilwaco, Leschi and LCA all face significant roster turnover, but return enough proven players that they should again be the main contenders.
Life Christian loses Luke Lovelady, who will play college basketball for Point Loma, and eight other graduates including CJ Kovacs and Anthony Kunista. However, Eric Overgaard and Noah Robinson could emerge among the league’s top players.
Chief Leschi graduates Yaholah Gower, who carried them to a one-point win over Ilwaco with a 30-point performance, but returns everyone else.
With Life Christian likely slipping just a bit from their heights of recent years, there could be a real three-team race for the league title.