MONTESANO - In what may prove to be the most important win of their season, Ilwaco used a mammoth fourth quarter uprising to soar over the Elma Eagles 57-42 in District IV play at Montesano Friday.
Two key factors, an extremely active 1-2-2 zone defense and a 10-0 run in the final period sparked by Kyle Kaino's six points and Dustin Starr's four, contributed mightily to grounding the Eagles.
The Fishermen's 14th victory against seven defeats earns them a date with Ridgefield Tuesday, March 4, in Battle Ground. A win over the Spudders and the Fishermen will punch their ticket for the state tournament at the Sun Dome. A loss against Ridgefield, who has beaten Ilwaco twice this season, 71-62 and 68-53, would mean the Fishermen would play the winner of the Woodland-Tenino game for a trip to Yakima hanging in the balance.
Ilwaco started with a bang, taking an 8-2 lead over the Eagles on the strength of Starr, Andy Hudkins, and Ryan Cadwell's scoring, passing, and rebounding. Kaino added four of his game-high 19 points later to give the Fishermen a 16-11 lead after a period.
Three botched defensive assignments on in-bounds plays allowed Elma to pull within three points, but Kaino's first "three" of the game and put-backs by Hudkins and Cadwell pushed the lead back to 29-23 by intermission. Elma took the lead on three occasions in the third quarter as their guards lit things up from behind the arc.
Ilwaco's aggressive defense stopped the Eagle's outside game and foul trouble hindered their inside attack, allowing the Fishermen to regain the lead by the slimmest of margins with eight minutes to play, 38-37. Ilwaco's six of six from the line was a refreshing development, as was David Thorne's three-pointer to end the quarter.
With the score 40-38 and 5:31 remaining in the crucial contest, Kaino went to work, hitting a "trey," driving for a layup, sinking a foul shot, and twice passing for assists to Starr, as the Fishermen outscored the Eagles 10-0. With 2:39 left, Elma was unable to get a shot off against the active zone until less than two minutes remained.
Hudkins hit a turnaround to up the lead to 12 points, while Kaino sank five of eight from the line and Tony Crete rolled in a layin as Ilwaco increased the margin of victory to 57-42 at the buzzer. The board work of Hudkins, Starr, and Kaino was key in allowing Elma only one shot each possession down the stretch. Each senior had eight caroms for the contest as the Fishermen out-rebounded the athletic Eagles by a whopping 36 to 21 count.
Ilwaco shot 21-49 from the floor (43 percent) and hit on 12-16 free throws for 75 percent, while Elma was 19-41 on field goal tries (46 percent) and one of three from the line for 33 percent. The Eagles were whistled for 17 fouls to only a dozen for Ilwaco and turned the ball over 14 times while the Fishermen took care of the basketball extremely well, losing it ten times. Ilwaco's defense allowed Elma only three offensive rebounds in the contest.
Kaino led all scorers with 19, followed by Hudkins with 14 and Starr with 11. Cadwell and Kaino each dished out five assists and Thorne swiped the ball three times. The high-flying Eagles, who seemed to have a future college football player at every position, blocked four shots in the losing effort.
Ilwaco 16 16 9 19 -57
Elma 11 12 14 5 -42
Ilwaco - Kaino 19, Hudkins 14, Starr 11, Cadwell 8, Thorne 3, Crete 2, Williams, Mirelez, Ellsworth
Elma - Hill 14, Raynes 13, Carlton 7, Johnson 4, Olson 2, Vaughan 2