Ilwaco 8th graders win first place in basketball tourney

<I>Contributed photo</I><BR>Seated - Blake Kukula. Second row, left to right - Ross Kukula, Clark Wilson, Austin Wirkkala, Brenden Greenfield. Third row, left to right - Anthony Yoder, Wyatt Wulger, Cody Wright and Coach Jon Kukula.

ASTORIA - The Ilwaco Middle School eighth grade boys traveling basketball team won first place at the 8th Grade Boys BXB Four-team Tournament at Astoria High School on Jan. 10.

In their first game, Ilwaco beat Westview 47-16. The team then played against Warrenton, who they beat 44-16. Their final game was pitted against Astoria, which the Peninsula team won 45-27. Each game consisted of two 20-minute halves.

Coach Jon Kukula says the team has played at least 125 games together since the fifth grade, which has developed good team chemistry and intuition.

"It's a good group of kids that have really learned how to play basketball and hustle," praises Kukula. "As a coach I've watched these kids progress from being beat ... to a group of kids that works hard and dives for balls."

Proud of his team, Kukula describes the boys as a "good, fun team to watch. These kids have overachieved - their work ethic is above all the other teams we've played."

The team will play games in Seaside on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25, and in Clatskanie on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8. They plan to play every weekend throughout February and through the end of March.

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