ILWACO — The Fishermen boys team, tied for second in the Pacific League last season at 14-4, lost several major contributors to graduation. But wing Parker Kaech and post Joe Nisbett are easily capable of sliding into larger roles, and the return of fellow senior Calvin Baze, who lost last year to an ACL injury, will be a major boost.

Along with that trio are some promising younger players. The team should be in the league’s top tier once again.

Kaech, a highly athletic and long-armed six-footer, is the most proven player on the roster. A slasher and tough defender, he has a chance to star as he becomes a focal point of the offense.

Nisbett used his 6’8” frame to dominate several games in the paint last year. With Reese Tynkila graduating, the interior should be less crowded, and the team will look to feed him.

Elite court vision makes Baze an excellent playmaker, but injuries have robbed him of most of his high school career. He played JV as a freshman, then showed major promise in summer basketball before breaking his leg. He worked his way back by mid-season, giving Ilwaco’s offense some extra oomph with his point-guard play. But he missed his junior season with an ACL tear, suffered once again in summer ball. Everyone is eager for him to finally get a whole season.

“I really hope for his sake that he gets a full season,” coach Tim Harrell said. “Calvin lives [for] basketball. Nobody in all my years here has worked harder. He’s our leader, he’s going to be our captain.”

Guard Alex West highlights the freshman class, bringing off-the-dribble skills.

The team also has some shooting. Daniel Whiting, a proven three-point shooter, is back after skipping basketball his junior year. Jaden Turner came up from the JV team last year and showed a good three-point stroke. Ethan Cavin, another player advancing from JV-swing status, can guard power forwards and step out to hit a three.

Life Christian won its fifth straight league title last season, but along the way the Fishermen beat them for the first time in years. With Omar Mulani, Bradley Swillie and Daishaun Nichols, the Eagles probably have more proven returning talent than any team in the league. Willapa Valley (14-4 last year) loses league MVP Matt Pearson but brings back Logan Walker, the only underclassman to make First-Team All-League last year.

Ilwaco opens at home against Chief Leschi Dec. 4 at 5:45 p.m.

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

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