LONGVIEW — Against Davenport, the state champ two years ago and runner-up last year, Ilwaco trailed just 29-27 at halftime and 43-37 late in the third quarter, but the Gorillas pulled away for the 18-point win in regionals. The teams were playing for a first-round bye at state. As it is, Ilwaco will play St. George’s in the first round in Spokane for the third straight year.

Ebby McMullen and Kylie Gray fouled out early in the fourth quarter with the Gorilla lead in the low double-digits. Free-throw woes did Ilwaco in; the Fishermen were three for 20 from the line, while Davenport went 20 of 28.

Davenport, which rode an incredible defense to its playoff runs the last two years, got steals right after the inbound on each of Ilwaco’s first two possessions. But Ebby McMullen put the team on the board with a pull-up jumper, Arianna Bell buried a three-pointer to cut it to 7-5, and Ilwaco stuck around.

After trailing 22-15, the Lady Fishermen chipped away the rest of the half. During that stretch, they took possessions that were going nowhere and turned them into points. On one play, Erika Glenn’s entry pass to a well-covered Kylie Gray got tipped out of bounds, but Glenn came back to with a three-pointer off a screen on a baseline inbound. Ebby McMullen hit another three on Glenn’s baseline-out-of-bounds pass with just two seconds on the shot clock. The Fishermen used four long passes around the Gorilla press to set up Gray for the tying basket near the end of the half. Macie Hopkins answered with a buzzer-beater from the baseline to put Davenport up by two at halftime.

The Gorillas pulled away in the third quarter, taking advantage of their size and skill inside. Davenport led 47-37 after three quarters.

McMullen fouled out trying to intercept a Davenport pass at half-court, and Gray, who had five blocked shots in the game, fouled out shortly afterward at the 5:58 mark as the Gorillas extended the lead to 13. Davenport soon got the lead over 20, and Ilwaco emptied its bench.

Ilwaco will play St. George’s at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in Spokane. They opened against St. George’s at state each of the past two years, playing overtime games both times. In 2017, Eliza Bannister’s three-pointer sent the game into overtime, where Mackenzie Kaech hit the winning free throws for Ilwaco. Last year, Erika Glenn’s three-pointer off a stolen in-bounds pass capped a huge Ilwaco comeback, but the Fishermen played the overtime with three key players fouled out and lost. St. George’s is just 15-9 but is peaking at the right time. The Dragons beat Davenport on their way to a district title and beat Ocosta by 15 points in regionals.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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