ILWACO - "I can't think of anything worse than losing out in a game to go to district on our home court," Karl Oman said so Tuesday, Feb. 8 the Ilwaco point guard dropped in 37 points, passed for six assists and nabbed five rebounds to lead the Fishermen to a 73-61win over Montesano in the first ever District IV basketball game played at Carl Aase Gymnasium.
Ilwaco, the third-place Trico League team, was up on Montesano, the Evergreen's sixth seed only 36-32 at halftime. The Fishermen scored the first ten points of the third period and when Oman drove the lane for a pair of layups to end the stanza they were ahead by 15 at 53-38.
Coach Kip Meinhardt had switched to a 2-3 zone defense and the Bulldogs managed only 11 shots and made three field goals in the third period. A barrage of four three-pointers helped bring Montesano back to within 60-50 with 3:02 remaining in the final frame. Two coast-to-coast layups by Oman off steals and two "touchdown" passes from Ryan Kukula to Kyle Breckinridge on out of bounds plays put the Fishermen back in control 68-53. Oman then sank four foul shots and Breckinridge one down the stretch to give Ilwaco the victory.
"They didn't quit and we were tired of chasing their shooters in the first half so we went to a zone and closed out on their leading scorers," Meinhardt said. "We could get anything we wanted on offense. Karl wouldn't let us lose and the crowd was really into it and gave us great support."
Bobby Byrd hauled in 17 rebounds and scored nine points and Breckinridge pulled down eight boards and scored 17 points. Patrick Whealdon and Kukula each knocked down a trey and Ryan Tapio and Clark Wilson scored two each. Kukula also had five rebounds and three assists.
Ilwaco was a torrid 27-54 from the field for 50 percent and made 15-24 from the line for 63 percent, while Monte made 23-58 from the floor for 40 percent and they were 4-9 from the stripe. The Fishermen out-rebounded the visitors 38-25, both teams turned the ball over only eight times, and the Bulldogs where whistled for 18 fouls to nine for the home team.
Ilwaco is 16-6 on the season and finishes 12-1 at home. Oman has 1,633 career points and is within 45 of Paul Jarrett's school record 1,678. The Fishermen are now in the double-elimination portion of the 1A tournament. "I'm not real happy about having to play two playoff games to get into the tournament after finishing in a tie for second, but I'm happy we earned our way in," Meinhardt concluded.
Ilwaco will play Hoquiam at 6:30 p.m. at Black Hills High School Thursday, Feb. 10. The Grizzlies finished second in the Evergreen League and were ranked as high as fourth in the State two weeks ago. In other loser-out district games Castle Rock beat Forks, Kalama ousted Tenino, and Rainier defeated White Salmon.