ILWACO — One way to win basketball games is to be three to nine inches taller, two steps quicker and have a vertical jump a foot higher than your opponent at all five positions and then play like a well-oiled machine by shooting over 50 percent the first three periods and out-rebounding your opponent 60-32 for the game.

That is all the La Center Wildcats did to a feisty and “never say die” Ilwaco boys’ basketball team in a 69-38 Trico 1A League win over the Fishermen on Senior Night at Carl Aase Gym Feb. 1. Two minutes into the third period La Center had an unfathomable 49-10 lead over the Fishermen. One more La Center point would have kicked in the mercy-rule and a running clock, but Ilwaco would have none of that.

“It was fun to play on the same team as our seniors. Clark (Wilson) and Ross (Kukula) led us every game. They also helped me by pushing me in practice and encouraging me to play hard for the team. La Center is a little intimidating because they are so tall and athletic and they played a lot more aggressively than the first time we played them. I’m pretty tired and I didn’t shoot very well, but it was a fun season,” sophomore guard Brenden Weidner said.

“It was frustrating to play against them because it seemed like we couldn’t get anything in the hoop. Yes, La Center was intimidating tonight. I want to thank all my teammates for making it a good four years of basketball,” Kukula said.

“I didn’t shoot well tonight and La Center beat us pretty badly, but I don’t have any regrets. I played as hard as I possibly could and I am totally exhausted. This was a tough year for all of us, but I want to thank coach (Kip) Meinhardt for all he has done for me and our team,” an emotional Wilson related.

Kukula led Ilwaco with 12 points, hauled in five rebounds, picked off a pair of passes and he and Gonzales both dished out four assists. Gonzales scored five points and passed for three assists and Kenneth Sheldon added seven points.

The 60-32 edge by La Center on the glass was telling, as was the 27-66 shooting from the field for 41 percent and they were 9-18 from the line. The Fishermen connected on 15-53 from the floor for a chilly 28 percent and they made only 2-7 from the charity stripe. Both teams sank six treys in the game.

La Center finishes third in the Trico at 12-6, while Ilwaco completed their season at 5-13 in the league and 6-14 overall. The Fishermen were eliminated from post-season play earlier in the day when Seton Catholic forfeited games to King’s Way Christian and Columbia of White Salmon due to using an ineligible transfer student in varsity games.

La Center 22 23 15 9 — 69

Ilwaco 8 2 14 14 — 38

LA CENTER — Wyatt Aguirre 11, Dylan King 6, Connor Wonderly 16, Matt Braaten 12, Jamison Benitez 0, Jonathan Griffee 2, Jeremiah Arn 11, Zach Brown, A.J. Myers 9, Levi VanTol 2

ILWACO — Ross Kukula 12, Kenneth Sheldon 7, Brenden Weidner, Jose Gonzales 5, Eric McMillan 6, Jose Hernandez 2, Clark Wilson 6, Kienyn Adams, Jerry Lee, Carlos Lopez

Kukula rolls in 24 as Ilwaco downs Seton Catholic 68-60

VANCOUVER — A strong 15-7 start and stalwart work throughout the contest helped the Fishermen to a 68-60 Trico 1A League victory over Seton Catholic in Vancouver Jan. 28. Ross Kukula was “money” all night as he poured 24 points through the Mountain View High School nets to trigger the victory.

Teammate Clark Wilson hustled for a double-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and he dished out three assists for good measure. Kukula added five rebounds and four assists and Jose Gonzalez chipped in 10 points, Kenneth Sheldon had seven points, five rebounds and three assists and Brenden Weidner had a career night in scoring as he rolled in eight points and also had his best-ever game with seven rebounds. Eric McMillan added three points.

The Fishermen were forced to play a zone defense much of the night because of foul trouble. In the second period Wilson, Sheldon and Kukula each had three fouls and Kienyn Adams picked up four fouls after coming off the bench.

Seton Catholic trailed 31-24 at halftime and 14 of their points prior to intermission came from foul shots. Weidner, Kukula and Gonzales each hit a pair of “three’s” and Sheldon and Wilson also sank shots from beyond the arc for the Fishermen.

Wilson had eight points in each half and pulled down five boards in each half as he was the model of consistency in the paint for Ilwaco. The Fishermen had 16 two-point buckets to 12 for Seton Catholic.

Ilwaco 15 16 19 18 — 68

Seton Catholic 7 17 18 18 — 60

ILWACO — Kenneth Sheldon 7, Ross Kukula 24, Jose Gonzalez 10, Eric McMillan 3, Clark Wilson 16, Brenden Weidner 8, Jose Hernandez, Kienyn Adams, Tyler Milligan, Jerry Lee

SETON CATHOLIC — Evan Sims 9, Cole Farrell 16, DK Lee 2, Drew Fuller, Pat Grace 1, Justin James 15, William Noce-Sheldon 12, CJ Strong 2, Riley McShane 3

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