STEVENSON - Defensive adjustments in the second half helped the Lady Fishermen snag a 55-45 victory over far off Stevenson in the Trico League opener for each team there Friday. "We let them score eight of their ten points from the foul line in the second period, so we changed up on defense and made them shoot outside more. In the second half our girls rebounded well and limited them to one shot per possession," Coach Ned Bittner explained.
Kenzi Wirkkala had "a huge second half" as she pulled down 10 caroms and also scored six points. Bittner said, "Vallori Crowston led us in the first half with her scoring and defense and Marin McDonnell had a break out game offensively, especially in the second half." Crowston finished with 13 points, with 11 coming in the first half before she was shackled to the bench with foul trouble and McDonnell poured in 10 tallies in the second half to help keep the Lady Bulldogs in the kennel.
Once again Ilwaco's scoring was balanced as Carley Kitzman popped in six points and garnered seven boards, Alexa Wirkkala and Aimee Banuet each scored seven and both dished out two assists, Ashley Tapio added four points and Erin Kelly finished with two. Cameo Ulbricht contributed defensively, helping hold speedy Amanda Stump, Stevenson's District IV sprint champion to a dozen points.
In the late going Bittner said his guards, Crowston, Banuet, Alexa Wirkkala, and Ulbricht "handled their pressure defense very well." Ilwaco's converting 14 of 23 free throws (61 percent) helped preserve the double-digit advantage down the stretch, while Stevenson enjoyed obvious home-court advantage by trying a whopping 32 free tosses. They made only 13 for a miserly 41 percent. The Lady Fishermen knocked down 20 field goals, including one "three" and the Lady Bulldogs connected on 16 two-point field goals in the contest.
Bittner said, "This was an important win for us against a very-much improved Stevenson team. Their gym is a tough place to play because of the atmosphere. It is an old gym and usually pretty quiet and after a long bus ride it is a challenge to generate a lot of positive energy."
Ilwaco improves to 5-4 to go over the .500 mark for the first time in over a month and is 1-0 in league, while White Salmon is now 6-2 and 0-1 in the Trico. "We had a three-win week and even though we maybe played a B+ game at White Salmon, we were able to come away with a league win. I'll take it," Bittner concluded.
The Lady Fishermen also won the junior varsity game. In other Trico tilts Castle Rock beat White Salmon and LaCenter trounced Kalama.
Ilwaco 12 16 12 15 - 55
Stevenson 14 10 7 14 - 45
ILWACO-Carley Kitzman 6, Aimee Banuet 7, Vallori Crowston 13, Alexa Wirkkala 7, Erin Kelly 2, Marin McDonnell 10, Kenzi Wirkkala 6, Ashley Tapio 4, Cameo Ulbricht
STEVENSON-Amanda Stump 12, Kelsey Penner 2, Jen Rathberger 4, Chelsea Zibolski 18, Amanda Picklesimer 4, Kali Stump 2, Chaleah Stump 1, Deara Canady 2