MENLO — Ilwaco clung to a one-possession lead throughout the final minutes before late free throws extended the margin in a 60-54 win over Willapa Valley Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Willapa Valley’s defense gave Ilwaco trouble. Chad Flementis hounded Alex Kaino, making him get rid of the ball. The Vikings took away the baseline drives that Ilwaco power forward Reese Tynkila thrives on, often guarding him with versatile six-foot-three shooting guard Logan Walker to deny him his usual quickness advantage. The 6’5” Beau Buchanan, who had a block of Tynkila on Ilwaco’s second possession, protected the rim. He spent some time guarding 6’8” Joe Nisbett, as did six-footer Allen Deniston. Both made it tough for Ilwaco to get entry passes to Nisbett resulting in several turnovers on these passes.

“They were focused on not letting Reese beat them, and making Alex’s life miserable; they were hounding him” Ilwaco coach Tim Harrell said.

Teamwork works

The Vikings led 22-10 after an 18-2 run. But Kaino came up with some counterattacks. He hit a three, then drew the defense on a pick-and-roll with Nisbett to set up John Glenn in the corner for three more. A high screen from Nisbett got Buchanan to switch onto Kaino, who waltzed by him for a layup. With Valley hurt by missed free throws and unforced travels, Ilwaco had the lead down to 24-22 late in the half. Flementis poked the ball away from Kaino but fouled him fighting for the loose ball; Kaino hit one of two free throws, and Nisbett put back the second for a 25-24 halftime lead.

“They were denying me the ball,” Kaino said. “But everybody on our team is dangerous…We moved the ball well. They got mixed up in their (defensive) switches, and (Nisbett) set good screens.”

Logan Walker leads Valley

Walker was having a brilliant offensive game as Ilwaco could not keep him out of the lane on cuts and drives. By the late third quarter, he had 18 points and Valley led 35-30. Ilwaco regained the lead with the help of a technical on Valley for having six players on the court and a deep three-pointer by Glenn that put the Fishermen up 37-35. Walker tied it with a pull-up jumper. After Glenn’s fifth three-pointer, Walker spun on Parker Kaech and hit a silky jumper in the lane to cut it back to one.

Kaech beat the defense down-court at the end of the third to score one of Ilwaco’s few fast-break baskets, and Kaino’s three-pointer to start the fourth extended the lead to eight. Valley followed with an 8-0 run.

Final minutes

In a 49-49 game with five minutes to go and Valley in-bounding from the baseline, Kaech jumped and snagged a high pass intended for Walker out behind the perimeter, took it the other way and scored to give Ilwaco the lead. Walker put a cross-over move on Kaech and drew the foul and hit one of two free throws. After a Tynkila miss, Walker looked to seize the moment, dribbling quickly up-court and pulling up from 24 feet, but his shot just rimmed out.

Kaech fouled out with 2:15 left as Walker was looking to score on the break; after Walker hit both free throws, Ilwaco still led 53-52. Nisbett hit Ilwaco’s final field goal after catching a pass over the fronting Buchanan. That made it 55-52 inside of two minutes, which would prove to be all the points Ilwaco needed.

Buchanan cut it back to one with a hook shot with 1:12 to go. Valley got the ball back after a Kaino miss. Buchanan got fouled but missed the front end. Ilwaco hit five free throws in the final minute, four by Kaino, to put it away.

Kaino finished with a hard-earned 21 points. Glenn five threes gave him 15 points. Walker led the Vikings with 26 points, including 17 in the second half. Matt Pearson added 14 points.

Ilwaco improved to 13-4 in the Pacific League, while Valley fell to 13-4. Northwest Christian’s upset loss to Raymond the same day dropped it to 13-4, meaning Ilwaco moved up from fourth-place to a three-way tie for second. On Thursday, the regular season’s final day, Ilwaco and Valley each won while Northwest Christian lost to league-champion Life Christian (16-2), meaning NWC finished fourth and Ilwaco and Valley finished the regular season tied for second.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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