SPOKANE — Ilwaco came up short against a pair of Eastern Washington teams at the State tournament Thursday and Friday March 5-6, losing to fifth-place finisher Northwest Christian (Colbert) and fourth-place Columbia-Burbank.

Thursday quarterfinal: Northwest Christian 50, Ilwaco 37Ilwaco could not keep Crusader guards Natalie Smith and Ellie Sander out of the lane in a first-round loss.

Ilwaco trailed 10-3 early but replied with a 9-0 run, taking the lead on Tiana Ramsey’s three-pointer. The lead changed hands over the next several minutes. After Sander twirled to the basket for a layup and a one-point lead, Erika Glenn gave Ilwaco its last lead at 18-17 with a pair of free throws, giving her nine points already.

But the Crusaders were getting deep into the lane at will, repeatedly reaching the free throw line, and would soon open up a lead. Sander hit a circus shot for a five-point lead, and the Crusaders led 25-18 at halftime.

The Crusaders stretched the lead in the third quarter. Northwest piled up more points at the free throw line, and Sander picked off a pass and converted a reverse layup to make it 34-21 late in the period.

Glenn hit a pair of threes to cut it to 36-27 early in the fourth quarter, but threes by Smith and Sander stretched it back to 15, putting the game away.

Glenn scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and had four assists and three steals. She shot only five of 20 but hit three three-pointers and all seven free throw attempts.

Smith finished with 15 points and seven steals to lead the Crusaders, and Sander had 13 points and four steals.

Friday consolation-bracket game: Columbia-Burbank 66, Ilwaco 45The Coyotes, the eventual fourth-place finisher hailing from the southeastern part of the state, brought an offense loaded with talent. Jennifer Jacobo, a 5’3” guard with quick moves and some power, put up 25 points against Ilwaco, Jadyn Johnson showcased a versatile offensive game to help the Coyotes get off to a fast start, and Serenity Kinsey had a big performance off the bench, scoring in open space on cuts to the basket.

Scoring from inside and out, Johnson helped Columbia to a 10-2 lead. A catch-and-shoot three by Tiana Ramsey and a step-back trey by Erika Glenn cut it to 10-8, but Columbia answered with a 12-3 run capped by a Johnson three-pointer.

Still, Glenn kept Ilwaco within striking distance for a while during the second quarter. Venturing into the post, she went up against two defenders and got two free throws out of it. She stole a cross-key pass and took it the distance. Glenn went at three defenders, getting two more free throws out of it, cutting the lead back to 11 at 28-17.

Kinsey answered, cutting into the lane as the defense converged on Jacobo and scoring on her pass. But Kaytlenn Whelden nailed a three-pointer for Ilwaco, and Glenn blocked a shot and hit a long three of her own to cut the lead to eight at 31-23 late in the second quarter.

That was the closest Ilwaco got. Kinsey twice more found open spots in the defense, helping push the lead to 11 at halftime, and Jacobo had a big second half as Columbia-Burbank pulled away.

Jacobo scored a game-high 27 points. Glenn put up similar numbers to her first game, scoring 19 points on 5 of 17 shooting as white jerseys surrounded her all game, while adding six assists, four steals and three blocks.

“The six teams left are pretty good,” coach Ned Bittner said afterward, “and we’re maybe a half step behind. Once you get here, you’ve gotta have a little more balance,” Bittner said.

Teams at the top of the 2B girls bracket were fairly even with each other, and Ilwaco showed this year it could play at that level when enough was going right. Against Wahkiakum at Districts, the Fishermen lost by only three points. And the Lady Mules took third at Spokane, losing their semifinal by only five points. Ilwaco got a Regional win over Toledo, one of the best teams in the State. They got an impressive 18-point win over Rainier at Districts when Estella Sheldon hit seven threes. In Spokane they were competitive, but not quite at the level of these performances.

First-time varsity players in Spokane included freshman center Olivia McKinstry, a regular in the rotation, and sophomore Gabby Bell, who saw the floor toward the end of games.

“It’s unreal. It’s crazy just to walk on the court and feel like everyone’s watching,” McKinstry said. Like most players here, she took in some games herself. “I got to see Liberty play, it was great watching the number one seed that everyone’s watching for.”

“With all the lights beaming down it’s like a stage. It’s unreal. Like we’re all working together to put on a huge performance for everybody,” Bell said.

Bell has good memories of the season.

“During Districts we got off our game and we had talks about getting back on track,” she said. “We did well in Regionals. Here we thought we’d play as a team and I think we did that.”

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

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