ROCHESTER - Columbia broke open a 15-15 half-time tie to swim away with a 50-34 District IV victory over the Lady Fishermen in Rochester Friday. The loss by Ilwaco ended their season with an 8-14 record and also truncated the brilliant and rock-steady career of leading scorer and rebounder, Lanie Kary.
"Unfortunately we didn't play one of our better games and tonight Columbia played by far their best game of the three they played against us," Coach Ned Bittner explained. "They seemed to get every loose ball and they out-rebounded us, as well."
Kary scored 21 points to complete her career with 1,024 points in 85 games during her four years on the court for Ilwaco. Kary was held to seven rebounds by the double-teaming hustle of the Lady Bruin's defense, only the fifth time in 22 contests this season that she did not produce a double-double in points and rebounds.
Bittner said, "Lanie has been a great person in our basketball program, besides being a great player. I can't say enough good things about her. Our team is going to have a new identity next year without her on the court." Melany Bliss was Ilwaco's only other senior and she was held scoreless in her final game for the Lady Fishermen.
Neither squad was able to find the hoop in the early going as the first period ended 7-3 in favor of the Lady Bruins. Kary triggered Ilwaco's comeback to even the contest at 15-15 at intermission. It was then that Columbia's Adrianne DeLay swished four 3-point shots in the third period to help elevate her teammates to a 22-7 quarter against Ilwaco and effectively swing the contest in Columbia's favor.
The Lady Fishermen played the Lady Bruins evenly the final eight minutes of the game, but the third period outburst and the hustle of their leading scorer, Ericka Ziegler (18 points), throughout the contest was the difference.
"They out-played us tonight and they deserve to move on," Bittner stated. "Our girls played hard all game, but we just didn't shoot well enough to win, even though we got open looks at the basket. When we pressed we weren't able to get the ball away from them and Columbia did a good job of double-teaming Lanie and of rebounding, especially on the offensive glass."
Bittner said, "We had high goals for the season and we achieved one of them by earning a trip to district. Our three freshmen (Alexa and Kenzi Wirkkala and Vallori Crowston) gave us a boost and tonight Cameo Ulbricht played very well on defense. We have 10 girls returning and hopefully the experience they gained by playing at district will help them have success next season."
Bittner concluded, "Unfortunately we didn't do what we needed to do tonight to win, but I enjoyed every day of practice and I'm looking forward to next season. I'm also going to miss Lanie and Melany and I really appreciate all that they contributed over their careers."
Both Forks and Onalaska were knocked into the loser's bracket after running up the score in their first round district games. Toledo downed Forks and Rainier knocked off Onalaska to earn berths to state and an opportunity to play for the district title. Castle Rock upset Trico-league champ LaCenter to advance to play Forks and Onalaska will play Columbia next Wednesday. Those four teams are competing for the final District IV invitation to state.