CENTRALIA - "On to State," is the Fishermen fans' chant as Ilwaco trimmed Tenino 48-33 in District IV play at Centralia Friday. The Fishermen netted a huge 17-2 first period lead and then held off a late Beaver threat to earn a berth in next week's 2A State Tournament in Yakima.
The Fishermen will play Steilacoom at 2 p.m. and are in the same bracket with Pullman and Ridgefield. Steilacoom is Nisqually League and West Central District champion, having won their five post season games by an average of 26 points and finishing with a 21-5 record.
Kyle Kaino swished three rainbow-like three point shots, Andy Hudkins rolled in two turnaround jumpers, David Thorne made a long "two," and Ryan Cadwell fed Dustin Starr for a layup to account for the whopping first quarter output. The main ingredients in Ilwaco's avalanche of offense against the Beaver's 1-2-2 zone defense were patience and unselfish passing.
The aggressive man-to-man "D" the Fishermen had employed to start the contest began to get them in foul trouble in the second period. Cadwell, Thorne, and Starr picked up three infractions in the tightly-called game and Tenino drew to within 25-13 by using the charity stripe.
Coach Matt Blair came out in the second half in a 1-2-2 zone defense to help reduce the foul problem and the two teams traded baskets in the third period. The Fishermen were 2-8 from the foul line, missing the front end of three 1-1's during that stretch, or they could have lengthened the lead. Cadwell and Starr each scored four points in the period.
To begin the final eight minutes, Tenino guard, Ryan Shea, hit two long "threes" coming from somewhere near Adna as the Beavers whittled Ilwaco's margin to seven points, 29-36. Shea then took a tumble as he threw up a shot in the lane that hung tantalizingly on the rim, before falling harmlessly aside. Had that shot and his ensuing free throw both gone in, the lead would have been four with 3:10 remaining in the frenetically paced skirmish.
Hudkins exploded for a driving layin seconds later to up the Fishermen's cushion to nine. That five-point turnaround and the steady rebounding of Ilwaco in the second half were key factors in the victory. Hudkins pulled down four consecutive defensive boards and Thorne grabbed two in the final minutes of play to keep Tenino to a one-shot offense.
Rocky Mirelez, who replaced a fouled-out Starr, literally put the clamps on Shea, limiting him to four desperation misses and forcing three turnovers down the stretch. With a visit to the Sun Dome slipping away, the Beavers began to foul and Thorne came through with six consecutive makes and Kaino canned five of six from the charity stripe to ice the win.
The pair of senior guards, Thorne and Kaino, each handed out five assists and Hudkins swept the glass for 12 rebounds and Cadwell grabbed 10, even though both were at least three inches shorter than their Tenino counterparts. Cadwell and Mirelez had three steals apiece and Kaino scored a game-high 16 points while Hudkins banked in 12.
The Fishermen success at the line in the fourth quarter came just in time, as the team shot only 50 percent for the game, scoring on 15-30 attempts. Ilwaco shot 38 percent from the floor on 15-40 tries, while Tenino could muster only a 25 percent success rate from the field against the stingy Fishermen defense on 12-48. The Beavers made 6-15 free throws for a meager 40 percent.
Ilwaco out-rebounded taller Tenino 43-32 and each team turned the ball over 13 times. The Beavers were whistled for 25 fouls and Ilwaco 19, as the Fishermen improved their record on the year to 15-8. The final score made activities director Gary Flood a happy man as he had fearlessly predicted the team's victory would be by 15 points.
An elated coach Blair said earlier in the week, "The way we have been playing defense at district we can compete with anyone in the state." The trip to Yakima will give Blair's charges the opportunity to do just that. His Fishermen held three quality opponents in Elma, Ridgefield, and Tenino to an average of 38 points, at least 20 tallies below their combined season's averages.
The 2A Tournament is not new for Ilwaco as they visited Yakima in 2000 and 2001, going 0-for-two the first year and winning once before dropping two their second trip. When heading to Yakima call (800) 695-ROAD (7623) to get the latest pass reports and check out www.wiaa.com on the Internet to obtain up-to-the-minute scores, statistics, and bracket information about the 2A tourney
The Fishermen's history in the B Tournament in Spokane features a championship in 1959 and a second place finish in 1960 to highlight their five visits and 11-6 record. In the A ranks, Ilwaco placed second in 1990 and has nine appearances in Tacoma, amassing 14 wins against 15 losses. The 2003 edition of Fishermen will try to improve on the overall 26-25 standing at all levels at State for the school.
Ilwaco 17 8 8 15 -48
Tenino 4 9 8 12 -33
Ilwaco - Kaino 16, Hudkins 12, Thorne 9, Starr 6, Cadwell 4, Williams 1, Mirelez, Crete, Ellsworth, Gray
Tenino - Shea 14, Hamilton 10, Jones 4, Lewis 4, Bedford 1