ILWACO - The Ilwaco alumni team defeated the high school squad 60-54 at Aase Gymnasium Tuesday in exhibition co-ed basketball.
Alumni coach Larry Phelps jokingly assessed his team's chances by saying, "We're gonna have to be physical." High School coach, Ryan Cadwell, who is still slowed by a knee injury from football, said, "We are going to have to out run them."
Thanks to strong inside scoring from Andy Hudkins ('03) and Ned Bittner ('94) the alumns made Phelps look like a coaching genius. Randy Wiegardt led the Fishermen in scoring, although no individual statistics were kept.
The alumni spurted to a 9-0 lead on Hudkins and Bittner's points in the paint and a Gary Wirkkala ('87) patented left-handed three-point shot. Wiegardt broke the ice for the high school with a layup and Dylan Wirkkala's "three" brought the score to 9-5. Nick Lyster ('01) and Tony Crete exchanged three-balls as the quarter came to a close with the scoreboard showing 16-12.
Hudkins poured in two of his familiar turnaround jumpers to up the mark to 20-12, but hustling guard play from Ryan Gray and Katie Holmes and two feeds from Rocky Mirelez to Wiegardt closed the gap to 24-21 later in the second period. Michelle Wroble hit a long three-pointer to tie the game, only to have sister, Marie Wroble ('02) return the favor, giving the alums a slim 29-26 edge at the half.
At intermission Stanley Huitt's name was drawn in the raffle for a trip to Reno. The crowd was then entertained by the Ilwaco Male Dancers, consisting of Mirelez, Cadwell, David Caudle, Brandon Christman, and Garrett Binion and by the IHS band under the direction of Brian Bergman.
The alumni forged ahead 39-30 in the second half on the hustling guard play of Kyle Holmes ('01) and Larry Wirkkala ('91) and the inside scoring of Bittner and Hudkins. Ashley Fauver hit Crete with a perfect pass and he completed an old-fashioned three-point play to draw within six points. A five-point scoring binge by the veterans was sparked by Chris Hill ('91) and Dustin Starr ('03) and upped the margin to 44-33 in favor of the alumni.
A Mirelez "three" and two layins by Wiegardt and strong rebounding from Shane Padgett closed the gap to 48-40 going into the final period. With three minutes left in the contest Tommy Inserra hit a twisting shot in the lane to close the gap to 52-47.
As the clock wound down, venerable defensive specialist Dennis Oman (1960!) hit a jumper from the top of the key and Ericka Karnofski ('01) sank a layup to give the alumni an insurmountable 60-52 lead. Fauver scored a layup for the high school that beat the buzzer, according to referees Jon Kaino and Matt Blair. It was agreed these two gentlemen did as well officiating on the court as they usually do from the stands or from the bench.
Fortunately no shooting percentages were kept, as players from both generations had first-game jitters, but the fun, hustle, and camaraderie more than made up for any lapses in the quality of performance.
Proceeds from the raffle and basketball game went to support Ilwaco High School athletics. The exhibition contest was part of Kari Knutzen's culminating project, under the direction of her mentor, Gary Flood.
IHS 12 14 14 14 -54
Alumni 16 13 19 12 -60