CHEHALIS — Wahkiakum outscored Ilwaco 23-14 in the fourth quarter to win 64-51 in district finals Saturday at W.F. West High School in Chehalis Saturday, Feb. 16.
The Lady Mules came in ranked first in the state in RPI, while Ilwaco was fourth. Wahkiakum, with a veteran lineup, is particularly renowned as a defensive team. They brought a brand of man defense that relied on sound decisions and machine-like efficiency more than aggressive traps or pursuit of spectacular plays. They made every pass and drive just a bit harder than normal for Ilwaco, and their help defense quickly diagnosed and reacted to any vulnerabilities as they were opening up.
After committing turnovers on their first five possessions and falling behind 12-2, the Lady Fishermen slowly got back into the game. Kylie Gray made a tough catch over a fronting defender and scored to cut the lead to four early in the second quarter. A three-pointer by Arianna Bell and a pair of threes by Estella Sheldon put Ilwaco in the lead.
Paige Mace responded by pulling up without warning from about 30 feet and draining a three-pointer of her own, and Wakiakum led 28-25 at halftime. Mace hit five threes in the game for a 19-point night.
Erika Glenn, who led Ilwaco with 14 points, made several big second-half plays. She hit a very tough contested three-pointer to cut the lead to 36-35. Early in the fourth quarter she pinpointed a bounce pass through four defenders to Sunny Kemmer, who hit the open bank shot. Shortly afterward, Glenn rescued an Ilwaco possession that was breaking down. She gathered a loose ball, crossed over Mace and dumped another pass to Kemmer, who scored again to cut the lead to 45-41.
The Mules followed with a 7-0 run. Macie Elliot passed over the top of Ilwaco’s zone to Mace, who blew past Estella Sheldon and fed her forward for an easy bucket. After a pair of Wahkiakum free throws, Elliot slid over and stonewalled Ebby McMullen as she was starting to bring the ball up. She knocked the ball out of bounds off McMullen, and a few seconds later Mckensi Flukiger hit a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 11.
Wahkiakum maintained a double-digit lead most of the rest of the game. With the loss, Ilwaco took second in the district and remained at number four in the 2B RPI rankings. Ilwaco has clinched a berth at state. In Regionals the Lady Fishermen (21-2) will battle Davenport at Mark Morris High School in Longview Saturday at 4 p.m., with a first-round bye at state on the line.