ILWACO - In a game where tempo-the ability to perform at one's preferred pace--was critical, Ilwaco had it, lost it and got the tempo back to pull out a 53-39 non-league boy's basketball game with Astoria here Wednesday. The first half neither team had tempo, momentum or the lead for very long.

Kolby Kirby knocked down a pair of three-point shots to give the Fishermen a 6-4 lead early and after nine lead changes and eight ties Ilwaco knotted the score at 24-24 in intermission. Astoria was up 24-20 with a minute to go in the initial half when Karl Oman hit a trey and later made one of two foul shots to bring his mates even at popcorn time.

Between halves Coach Kip Meinhardt instructed his squad to "pack it in" with a 2-3 zone and let Astoria shoot from the outside. The Oregon quintet shot and missed. And shot and missed. And shot-well you get the idea-they missed 13 consecutive shots and Ilwaco snared 11 rebounds during that stretch to trigger a 17-0 run. The Fishermen methodically built a 41-24 lead eight minutes after the score had been tied and they scored a total of 21 consecutive points.

Astoria's Coach Chris Hunt then ordered his athletic squad to liberally apply full-court defensive pressure. The result was the Oregon Fishermen scored the next 13 points and went on a 15-1 cruise of their own to make the score 42-39 with 3:16 remaining in the game.

At that juncture Ilwaco was able to beat the wall-to-wall defensive pressure and Jack Whealdon found Cody Bliss open on a breakaway layin to extend the Fishermen's lead to 44-39. Kirby passed to Whealdon for a three and then fed Justin Short for another bucket to give Ilwaco a 49-39 advantage. Whealdon swished four free throws in a row down the stretch to give Ilwaco one last run of 11-0 and to ice the 53-39 win.

Meinhardt said, "We executed the game plan to perfection tonight. We were able adjust to their athleticism and defense and we made them shoot outside and we hit our 'three's' and out-rebounded them. This was a fun game to win."

Astoria shot a miserable 18-68 for the game (26 percent), was 1-14 in the third period and connected on a combined 7-37 in the second half from the field. To add insult to injury they were 25 percent from the charity stripe, going 3-12. The Washington Fishermen sank 16-42 from the floor (38 percent), including eight three-point shots and knocked down 13-18 from the line (72 percent). Fouls were 12 to 18 in favor of the visitors and Ilwaco out-rebounded Astoria 41-39, while turning the basketball over only 10 times, including just four times in the first three periods to Astoria's six miscues for the fray.

Whealdon led all scorers with 19 points and he had four assists and Oman scored 15 points, snagged 11 rebounds for a double-double and had three assists. Justin Short was anything but short as he garnered nine rebounds and scored six points, while Ross Kary added eight boards, scored twice and blocked two key shots. Kirby scored six points and passed for a season-high seven assists. Cody Bliss with three points and Chris Schommer with two provided valuable contributions off the pine.

Astoria, which dropped to 9-5 on the season, was led by Jordan Poyer's 16 points and eight rebounds. Ilwaco improves to 9-7 on the year. The junior varsity Battle of Megler Bridge was won by Astoria 67-36, despite Bobby Byrd's 19 points for Ilwaco.

Astoria 12 12 3 12 --39

Ilwaco 13 11 17 12 --53

Ilwaco-Justin Short 6, Jack Whealdon 19, Kolby Kirby 6, Ross Kary 2, Karl Oman 15, Chris Schommer 2, Cody Bliss 3

Astoria-Jordan Poyer 16, Brian Van Gundy 2, Ian Erickson 3, Alex Eterno 6, Dane Lund 4, Jacob Graham 4, Max Johnson 2, Jacob Davis 2

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