YAKIMA - "We left a lot of people with open jaws today. No one gave us a chance, but you guys did it," an ecstatic coach Matt Blair told his team after Ilwaco demolished Steilacoom 50-35 on opening day of the State 2A Tournament in Yakima.
"Rebounding, defense, knowing your roles, you guys did it all," Blair went on to say. The Fishermen held the District III champion Sentinels to exactly half of their season average and set a record that will never be broken by shutting them out in the first quarter. And no one slowed the game down a bit.
The Ilwaco 1-3-1 zone chased the high-scoring trio of guards from Steilacoom on the perimeter and boxed out their inside players with quickness as well. Their top three guards had averaged over 50 points per game, but were held to one field goal in the first half and six buckets for the contest.
Center Andy Hudkins was brilliant at both ends of the court, grabbing 11 defensive rebounds, blocking four shots, and powering in 11 points in the first half alone, as the Fishermen fashioned a 23-7 lead before intermission.
Hudkins won the opening tip and seconds later fed Ryan Cadwell for a back door layup that gave Ilwaco a lead they would never relinquish. Cadwell's three points, Hudkins five, and a Kyle Kaino runner in the lane made the score 10-0 after one quarter.
David Thorne handled the ball against the Steilacoom pressure and was the recipient of several fouls out front to help the Fishermen get into the bonus situation early. Ilwaco converted on 9-14 free throws in the first half while Steilacoom was 0-11 from the floor in the first period and two of 27 the first half for a microscopic 7 percent shooting percentage, thanks in large part to the aggressive Fishermen "D."
The third quarter the Sentinels came out in a full court zone press and an in-your-face man defense of their own that led to a 10-1 run, closing the gap to 24-17 at the 3:40 mark. Kaino and Thorne regained their poise, handling the ball well enough to control the contest from that point on.
Cadwell took two offensive charges and Dustin Starr hit on a three-point play to go with four more free throws and the third quarter ended with the Fishermen back in control 34-23.
The final period began with Thorne threading the needle twice with passes to Cadwell for layins. Hudkins hit a high bank, a turnaround, and sank two freebies (he was a brilliant 7-8 from the line for the game) to help up the Ilwaco margin to 44-27 with 3:57 to go in the contest.
During the last quarter Steilacoom tried to work the ball inside, but Blair had wisely switched to a 2-3 zone and the closest they came was 44-31 with 1:22 left. The final seconds Thorne hit three foul shots and Kaino added one before Tony Crete ended scoring with a cripple at the buzzer on a perfect pass from Tommy Inserra.
The Fishermen's 39-24 rebounding edge was a key to their second-ever 2A state tournament victory, as was the 13 assists they accumulated in making 15 field goals. Ilwaco shot 53 percent from the field (15-29), their highest mark of the season, and made 20 of 35 free throws for 57 percent. Steilacoom was held to 24 percent from the floor, making 14-59 and shot 4-8 for 50 percent from the line.
Hudkins led all scorers with 19 points and Cadwell scored 12. Kaino, Hudkins, and Thorne each dished out four assists and Cadwell and Starr had six rebounds each, while Hudkins had a season-high 18. Thorne received the WIAA sportsmanship award for the game.
"Our defense and rebounding was so good today that this game wasn't an upset," Blair concluded.
Ilwaco 10 13 11 16 -50
Steilacoom 0 7 16 12 -35
Ilwaco - Hudkins 19, Cadwell 12, Kaino 6, Starr 5, Thorne 4, Crete 2, Mirelez 2, Williams, Inserra, Ellsworth, Gray, Wiegardt
Steilacoom - Wusterbarth 8, Reynolds 6, Lynch 4, Kerrigan 6, Schiller 2, Schluter 4, Balogh 2, Lewis 3