ILWACO - Last season Ilwaco finished just off the pace for a district berth for coach Paul Jarrett, but this season the IHS alum and former professional basketball player is going to make some changes in hopes of getting into the postseason.
"I am going to shorten the rotation from 10 to seven or eight players and we are going to start from scratch and concentrate much more on fundamentals in practice."
One improvement may have come Nov. 20 when Ilwaco received the OK that 6-foot-4 Ryan Rodenbaugh - a transfer student from Beaverton - gets a fifth year of basketball eligibility due to a hardship.
"Rodenbaugh is a fine shooter and excellent all-around player and a welcome addition to our team," Jarrett said.
The coach is also more than encouraged about the upcoming season and his chances to move up the Trico League ladder because of the play of senior Matt Kaino, who was second in scoring, rebounding, and assists last year for the Fishermen. Jarrett said, "Matt is Matt. He has a great work ethic, is very athletic and it is nice when your best player is also one of your hardest workers. He can score inside or hit the three and he is coming off a consistently productive summer season."
Another senior with a world of potential is 6-foot-8 Ryan Blake.
"I am counting on Ryan to play the high post and then move inside, as well. He could dominate in this league if he can continue to improve and stay out of foul trouble." Kolby Kirby had a strong summer season and has worked hard on his defense according to Jarrett. He joins Jack Whealdon and Jordan DeSimone at the two-guard position. "All can shoot the three-point shot and they all play smart defensively."
Karl Oman, a freshman, has shown excellent skills in early workouts and has the inside track on the point guard position. "Karl has a lot of basketball savvy, he can defend and he can shoot, but the greatest thing about Karl is that he has put in the time and dedication to be an excellent varsity player, even as a freshman," Jarrett praises. "Cody Bliss is another player who has shown a great deal of improvement and very solid work ethic." He could see playing time at the post position.
The Fishermen's first week of practice was a washout as twice workouts were cancelled due to school power outages and then other school functions took players away later in the week. A schedule change made by four of the seven Trico League teams also added to Jarrett's frustrations. "We will play eight varsity-only games, which means our JV team will miss opportunities to play against league opponents. It will also mean that some of the guys will travel to varsity games instead of practicing and will be eligible for only one quarter or if they play in two quarters they will have to sit out an entire JV game. It's going to get confusing. I just hope no coach messes up and has to forfeit a game, especially if that coach is me."
Jarrett will use a two-guard front with a high post in his man-to-man offense and will use overload principles to attack zones. "Defensively we will play mostly man-to-man, but will employ a 2-3 or 1-2-2 zone in the half-court and sometimes trap out of those sets. After Christmas we should be ready to zone-press in the full court to slow down our opponents in key situations."
Jarrett sees Castle Rock as the team to beat in the Trico and Kalama's raw talent enough to put them in the runner-up position. "LaCenter has a couple of good shooting guards and Rochester has a lot of talented players, but a new coach. In the Evergreen League Toledo is well-coached and aggressive and Winlock has some very good players. I think we should be right up there with those teams," he predicts. "If we develop our fundamentals and play consistently we could be tough to beat."
The Fishermen could very well reel in a district berth and from then on it will be a scrap for the meager three-team allocation to state from District IV. If Blake plays as well as Kaino at season's end and Rodenbaugh develops as anticipated, then get the buses warming for a trip to the Yakima Sun Dome in March.
The junior varsity will be coached by Kip Meinhardt and venerable Dennis Oman has been working as a volunteer assistant at practices. Rounding out the 30-man roster are seniors Vicente Fuentes, Josh Holland, Eddie Knick and home school student Kevin McDonnell.
Juniors hoping to earn varsity playing time are Robert Gibbons, William Herman, Tyler Johnson, Ross Kary and Carlos Pacheco. Sophomores on the Fishermen roster include Hayden Blake, Cory Booth, Chris Gibson, Tyler Penny and Justin Short. Freshmen out for Ilwaco basketball are Robert Byrd, Ryan Kukula, Skyler Olson, Chris Schommer and Patrick Whealdon.