ILWACO — Ilwaco’s junior varsity boys basketball team finished 16-4 this year, winning 14 of its last 16 games, as Jayden Turner, Ethan Cavin and Brady Vinsonhalen all averaged double figures scoring.
The team dropped three of its first five. They lost their opener 58-56 to league JV champ Life Christian.
“(Life Christian) had one kid who scored 44 points and ended up being a varsity starter the next time we played them,” Ilwaco JV coach Bob Enos said. They lost by 5 against an ultra-deep Naselle program and by 2 against Northwest Christian during the same stretch.
By the second time through the league schedule, Enos had his team confident it could beat anyone. “We (had seen) what everybody had and thought we could beat them,” Enos said. “Our kids kind of bought into that, and we had the goal of going undefeated the second time through. We lost on the road to Life Christian, but we beat everybody else handily.”
Cavin, a forward, averaged 14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Turner played point guard and averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 assists. The two got varsity time late in the season.
Cavin stood out immediately in varsity games, with size, open-floor athleticism and three-point shooting ability. Enos said Cavin could step into the role of graduating John Glenn as a varsity shooting specialist on offense, while guarding big men on defense.
About half of Turner’s shots at junior varsity came from 3-point range, where he shot 43.1 percent.
“Jayden really improved as a point guard,” Enos said. “He got used to what I wanted from him. He’s so athletic, but he started out kind of playing gym ball and could get out of control. He got to where he was finding the open man, running the offense.”
Vinsonhaler had 11.8 points and a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game. Vinsonhaler, who came late to basketball, has improved steadily throughout his high school career, Enos said. His fellow junior Blake Kukula, who has grown several inches in his high school career and is now listed at 5 feet, 8 inches, has also progressed through the years.
“Blake and Brady were veteran leaders, steady influences,” Enos said. “Blake has really gotten good on defense. He’s gotten quicker, stronger, he’s getting more steals,” — two per game.
Jackson Wilkin, who wrestled last year as a freshman, switched to basketball this year.
“He took time to get back into basketball mode but he got going. He’s athletic and strong. he He’s got a wrestler’s mentality, always on the attack.”
Desmond Diamond and Nathaniel Douglas also showed talent in limited action. Hayden Babcock, a freshman, also missed some time, as he fought through injury.
“He had knee issues, and he wasn’t going to turn out,” Enos said. “But we talked to him about not missing a year (of basketball) and just taking time off when he needed to heal.”
Babcock got into 14 games.
“He has a nice-looking shot,” Enos said. “He and Jayden were the only freshmen we put on our (top) JV squad.”
Nathaniel Scarborough played every game, while Jacob Nelson, whom Enos described as a “late-comer” to basketball and “the hardest-working player on the team,” played all but one game.