IHS makes tourney with huge win

<I>DAMIAN?MULINIX/Chinook Observer</I><BR>Ilwaco starters and head coach Kip Meinhardt cheer from the bench as the team plays out the final minutes Friday.

ILWACO - Karl Oman scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half and Jack Whealdon poured in all 20 of his in the second half as Ilwaco blasted Columbia of White Salmon 78-47 in the final Trico League game of the season Friday at Carl Aase Gymnasium. The victory was huge because Kalama and Ilwaco came into the final night of the season tied for third place in the Trico at 5-4. Ilwaco won and Stevenson defeated the Chinooks 56-52, forcing Kalama to host Forks in a loser-out game Monday, Feb 16 to qualify for district, while Ilwaco is in.

The game had been tight the first half with Ilwaco actually trailing 20-12 near the end of the first period. A pair of Oman three-pointers midway through the second stanza broke a 24-24 tie and although the Bruins fought back to within 33-32 at intermission, they would not tie or take the lead from that point on.

In the second half the Fishermen zone stymied Columbia's offense and Whealdon, a senior playing in his final home game, got hot. With Ilwaco ahead 37-34 he went on a 16-5 tear with a pair of foul shots, four consecutive "three's" and a jumper in the lane, while the Bruins scored only two baskets. With Whealdon helping Ilwaco to a 53-39 edge the route was on as the Fishermen pummeled the visitors 45-15 in the second half.

With under four minutes remaining and Ilwaco up 75-45, Columbia coach Jason Suess emptied his bench. Around a minute later Ilwaco's Kip Meinhardt did the same as everyone got into the action. Then at the 1:34 mark the Bruin coach told his starters to re-enter. When several refused he ordered them in, taking a warm up jacket off one player himself. The Bruins went through the motions and Ilwaco substitutes took turns shooting from long range as time ran out.

Columbia committed 20 fouls, and one technical foul was called on Carlos Mendoza, to a dozen fouls for Ilwaco. Meinhardt said, "I'm proud of the way our kids didn't buy into any of the extracurricular stuff that was going on. My goal all season was to put a team on the court that our community could be proud of and I think we accomplished that tonight."

Oman had eight assists and eight rebounds to go with his 21 points and Whealdon had three assists to augment his 20. Justin Short added 13 points and dished out four assists, while pulling down seven boards. Senior Kolby Kirby scored seven points, and also had four assists and seven rebounds and senior Ross Kary scored eight points, had six rebounds and one thunderous blocked shot that brought the house down. Cody Bliss added four points, Chris Schommer and Ryan Kukula each scored two and Patrick Whealdon added one point to the happy total.

Whealdon explained, "I didn't get that many good looks at the basket in the first half, but Karl set me up for several wide-open shots in the second half and they happened to go in." Kirby said, "Our team scoring so many points, this was a great note to end my senior season at home. It was nice to beat an 'in your face' team like White Salmon so convincingly." Kary added, "I'm glad we beat those guys the way we did. This was a fun senior night. I want to thank coach Meinhardt for what he's done for us. He has a way of firing us up."

Meinhardt said, "This was a big win for us because now we go directly into district and we get a couple of days off to prepare. I was hoping to come with more intensity tonight by starting in man-to-man defense, but our zone was very effective the second half. Karl kept us in the game in the first half and Jack really got untracked in the third period. All of the guys played exceptionally well in the second half."

Ilwaco finishes the season with a 14-7 mark. Castle Rock won the Trico at 9-1, Stevenson is second at 8-2, Ilwaco third at 7-3 and Kalama fourth with a 5-5 record. Columbia is 3-7 and LaCenter 0-10. The Fishermen will play Onalaska at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18 in Chehalis to open District IV play.

Columbia - Huth 2, Tippel 5, Lovrin 16, Granados 8, Pate 2, Mendoza 14

Ilwaco - Short 13, Whealdon 20, Kirby 7, Kary 8, Oman 21, Schommer 2, Bliss 4, Kukula 2, P. Whealdon 1

Fishermen survive spirited LaCenter 51-45LaCENTER - "This game was a carbon copy of the first time we played LaCenter. I felt we were in control of the game most of the way against a scrappy ball club," Coach Kip Meinhardt said after his Fishermen defeated LaCenter 51-45 there Feb. 10.

The Wildcats kept the score close throughout the first half of the Trico League tilt, although Ilwaco was ahead the majority of the time. With a 22-19 advantage coming out of the locker room the Fishermen put full-court pressure on the home team and by midway through the third quarter had fashioned a 33-23 edge. It was then that LaCenter's Garrett Davis swished three consecutive three-point shots to reel in the Fishermen and make the score 33-32. "We played good defense, hustled in our zone most of the night, but for some reason we just didn't get over to stop Davis in that third period and we let them get right back into the ballgame," Meinhardt lamented.

In the fourth period LaCenter was only able to make one trey and four foul shots. "We needed some intensity to keep control of the game so I challenged the guys, maybe even made them mad at me," Meinhardt said with a smile. "Fortunately we found a way to win." Ilwaco pulled out a similar 48-43 victory over LaCenter Jan. 22.

Four different Ilwaco players combined to make 8-9 of their free throws in the fourth period to go with a pair of field goals as they hung on for the six-point victory. Karl Oman scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds, Jack Whealdon added 13 and Justin Short scored 10 points. Kolby Kirby popped in seven, Cody Bliss and Kyle Breckenridge each had two points and Chris Schommer ended with one.

Tanner Roggenback led all scorers with 20 points. Meinhardt related, "I was happy with the defense of Kolby and Chris on Roggenback. They made him work for every shot he took. He got a few buckets off of steals, but our two guys had him bottled up most of the night.

He said, "This was LaCenter's last home game, and they had nothing to lose. They played hard and the referees let them play, in fact they were about as consistent as the weather has been." Meinhardt was not so much upset with what was called as he didn't care for the reaching and bumping that was tolerated by the officials.

Ilwaco was 14-41 from the field for a meager 34 percent, but converted 12-17 from the line for 71 percent, while LaCenter connected on 16-43 for 37 percent from the floor and they made 8-17 foul shots for 47 percent. Meinhardt said Ilwaco won the war on the boards, fouls were about even, but Ilwaco had too many unforced turnovers in the contest. The Fishermen are now 13-7, while LaCenter tumbles to 2-17 for what has turned out to be a long year for them.

Ilwaco - Short 10, Whealdon 13, Kirby 7, Oman 16, Schommer 1, Bliss 2, Breckenridge 2

LaCenter - Roggenback 20, Hollingshead 8, Davis 14, Biersceid 1, Baker 2

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