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Ilwaco senior Ebby McMullen, pictured here earlier this year, made a hail-Mary shot to add an exclamation point to Ilwaco's regular season.

Ebby McMullen stunned Ocosta by banking in a shot from way behind half-court at the buzzer to tie the game at 51, and Ilwaco won its regular season finale in overtime 56-53 to extend its Pacific League winning streak to 37 games. McMullen took her shot from the green-painted volleyball attack line, ten feet past half-court, and near the right sideline.

Ocosta, which came back after trailing by 19 points in regulation, led by three after a pair of Kjirstin Hopfer free throws with 7.1 seconds left. The Wildcats looked to seal it when Kaylee Barnum stole the inbounds pass and got fouled. But Barnum missed the front end with 4.9 seconds left.

In the chaotic closing seconds of regulation, Barnum got her hands on another pass, but McMullen gathered the ball, then dribbled out of the corner and down the sideline. She heaved up a high, arcing shot that hit the backboard near the middle of the square and dropped through the net.

“I knew I just had to get the ball and go,” she said. “We needed to get a shot off. I just looked up at the clock and fired. I just got so lucky.”

After Sunny Kemmer’s put-back on the first possession of overtime, the rest of the period was a defensive grind. Ocosta got the ball trailing by a point with about 40 seconds left. McMullen’s deflection late in the shot clock helped force a tough miss with 11.7 seconds.

Down three with 6.7 seconds, Hopfer took the inbound, examined her options against the press, considered a long pass to the perimeter, then thought better of it. With the clock winding, she heaved it up from about 60 feet, but lightning did not strike twice.

The Ilwaco offense struggled much of the game. With Hopfer denying the ball to their star, Erika Glenn, the Lady Fishermen had trouble creating chances. In the early going, Ilwaco’s feeds to the post were long, difficult passes that often missed the mark, while their jumpers were out of rhythm, many of them airballs. Ocosta led 13-7 early in the second quarter.

McMullen sparked a 16-0 Ilwaco run. She drove the lane and dropped a pass to Kylie Gray for an open jumper, went coast-to-coast for a layup, hit a pair of free throws, and had a three-point play on a putback for a 16-13 lead with 3:30 in the half. Ocosta was missing three-pointers and committing turnovers during a scoring drought of 5:19, and Ilwaco extended its lead to 22-13.

Glenn got involved. In a physical game where both teams were in the bonus, she got some points at the free throw line against Hopfer’s ultra-tight defense. Glenn put back a missed free throw by Kylie Gray with 1:12 in the half and followed with a steal at half-court that led to a Gray basket. She then had another steal, reading a side-to-side pass against the press, and took it herself. With six points in the last 72 seconds of the half, Ilwaco had a 28-15 lead at the break.

Down by 19, Ocosta closed the third quarter on a 16-3 run. Hopfer brought the crowd to life with a step-back three and a tough pull-up two on back-to-back possessions, cutting it to 10. On Ilwaco’s last two possessions of the quarter, Hopfer stole an entry pass and a McMullen cross-over dribble as Ocosta cut it to 39-33.

Final Minutes of Regulation

Hopfer got a three-point play on a dazzling move into the lane to cut the lead to 42-41 with 4:14 left. Kylee Poirier took a charge from Glenn under the basket. Glenn responded with a block of Hopfer, but Hopfer got the ball back and got it to Kristi Raffleson, who made the contested jumper for a 43-42 lead.

Glenn’s tough put-back under the basket restored the Ilwaco lead at 44-43 with 2:45 left. Hopfer pulled up and rattled in a three for a 46-44 lead with 2:20. Raffleson then blocked Sunny Kemmer and Ocosta looked for a fast break. But McMullen intercepted the outlet pass, leading to a driving bucket by Glenn that tied it up.

Barnum’s bank-shot three put Ocosta ahead 49-46 with 1:34 left. Glenn missed a pull-up three trying to tie it, but Gray wrestled away a long offensive rebound with 27.1 seconds left and Ilwaco called time out. With a foul to give, the Wildcats fouled Glenn in the lane just before she got off a shot. Ilwaco went to Glenn again on the ensuing inbound but Hopfer made her give it up to McMullen. McMullen drove, the defense collapsed on her, and she put up an airball. But Kemmer kept Ilwaco clinging to life with the put-back with 8.5 seconds left to cut it to one.

Hopfer sank two free throws with 7.1 seconds left, and Barnum seemingly sealed the deal by cutting in and stealing an inbound pass to McMullen. She was fouled with 4.9 seconds left but missed the front end, and McMullen followed with her miraculous shot.

Glenn finished with 19 points, McMullen had 18 and Gray 12. Hopfer led Ocosta with 17 points, Raffleson added 14, and Barnum and Layne Martin chipped in 11 apiece.

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

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