CHEHALIS — Paige Mace used a lightning quick cross-over dribble and a punishing pull-up three-pointer to light up Ilwaco for 22 points in Wahkiakum’s 41-38 District semifinal win Feb. 18. The Lady Mules’ defense held Ilwaco in check until a comeback in the final two and a half minutes.
Wahkiakum led 38-28 after Mace’s steal and layup with 4:18 to play.
On the next Mule possession, Mace dribbled along the baseline and under the basket but found nowhere to go with the pass, throwing it away to Kylie Gray, who took it the other way for a layup to cut the lead to eight points.
But Ilwaco still trailed 38-30 with two and a half minutes to play. The Lady Fishermen would need quick scoring in a game in which they were struggling to score.
With nothing else working for Ilwaco’s offense, guard Erika Glenn started playing a post-up game. She missed but outfought the Mules for two offensive rebounds, finally getting fouled and hitting both free throws with 2:18 left. Glenn then hit a shot over a double-team in the post with 1:32 left, and added a steal and layup to cut the lead to 38-36 with 1:13 remaining.
Mace grabbed an offensive rebound at the other end and drew Sunny Kemmer’s fifth foul, getting her to foul out. Mace hit one of two, but Kaytlenn Whelden took it coast-to-coast, the help defense was a beat late, and Whelden scored to cut the lead to one with 48 seconds to go.
Ilwaco had possession down 40-38 with 23 seconds left. Glenn drove at two defenders but missed, Olivia McKinstry missed the put-back, and Janzi Merz secured the rebound for Wahkiakum. That forced Glenn to foul out with 11 seconds left. Merz left Ilwaco life by missing the second of two free throws, but Ilwaco took six seconds to secure the rebound and could not get a shot off on the final possession.
Wahkiakum had gained an edge by striking first, taking a 7-0 lead in the first 1:10, a stretch that was crucial given the low scoring throughout the remainder of the game. Mace scored off the opening tip, and Ilwaco had two travels on its first three possessions. Glenn committed a charge for her second foul just 2:01 into the game, forcing her to sit for the rest of the quarter.
But Ilwaco answered Wahkiakum with a 6-0 run, including tough pull-up jumpers by Kaytlenn Whelden and Estella Sheldon, and remained within one at 12-11 after a quarter.
After a seven-point first quarter, Mace added nine in the second as the Lady Mules built a 23-14 lead. Near the end of the half, Glenn read Mace’s pass to a cutter, picked it off and hit an eight-foot pull-up with two seconds to play, cutting the lead to seven going into halftime.
Gray kept Ilwaco in it with six third-quarter points, and the Mules led 34-28 after three.
Glenn finished with 18 points, and Gray added eight.