Lady Fishermen are last bite of Wildcats perfect season

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX/Chinook Observer</I><BR>Ilwaco's Kenzi Wirkkala is smothered by the swarming defense of the LaCenter Lady Wildcats. Although Ilwaco kept the game close, LaCenter was able to close out the game 48-39 to complete their perfect regular season and win the Trico League championship. The Lady Fishermen tied for third place in league.

ILWACO - LaCenter bolted to a 19-7 first-period lead and then hung on for a 48-39 win over feisty Ilwaco here Thursday. The victory cemented a perfect 12-0 season for the Lady Wildcats and Ilwaco finished with a 7-5 record in the Trico League and in a third place tie with Castle Rock. A coin flip Sunday has the Lady Fishermen as the No. 4 seed and will open the playoffs against Forks at Centralia High School on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Three consecutive three-point baskets by a trio of Lady Wildcats helped the visitors amass their 12-point lead after eight minutes. The Lady Fishermen could have packed in their nets, but Coach Ned Bittner said, "We played as hard tonight as we have all season. We didn't give up."

Lanie Kary led a second-quarter charge for Ilwaco with eight points as the Lady Fishermen outscored the visitors 16-9 in the frame and went to the locker room only trailing 28-23. When Vallori Crowston stole a pass and went coast-to-coast for a lay-in with 6:21 to go in the third period the Lady Fishermen closed to within 30-27. Kary's free throw the remainder of the quarter was all the Lady Fishermen could muster, however and LaCenter worked their lead up to 36-28 with eight minutes to play in the contest.

Kary began the final frame with a basket in the paint from an assist from Aimee Banuet and ended the game with a three-point hoop from beyond the arc, but those were Ilwaco's only two field goals of the period. Alexa Wirkkala knocked down four free tosses and Kenzi Wirkkala added a pair of free tosses, however the Lady Wildcats kept a comfortable double-digit advantage for most of the last period until Kary's "three" ended the game and regular season for both squads.

"We competed well against a physical team by being physical ourselves," Bittner praised. "Most people didn't predict at the start of the season that we would be third in our league. We played LaCenter tough and we will have some tough games at district, but if we play as hard as we did tonight, we'll be competitive."

Kary finished with 15 points and eight rebounds and Melany Bliss had five points and five boards as the two seniors played in their final home game. Alexa Wirkkala scored eight points and had six rebounds and Kenzi Wirkkala also had six caroms and four points. Crowston scored five points and had a team-high six assists and Marin McDonnell added a field goal to the cause.

Both teams turned the basketball over 30 times in the topsy-turvy tussle. The Lady Wildcats scratched out a 41-37 advantage on the boards and were whistled for 15 fouls to Ilwaco's 10. Neither team shot particularly well from the field in the defensive struggle. Ilwaco was 11-46 (24 percent) and LaCenter was not much better at 18-58 (31 percent). The Lady Fishermen converted 14 of 24 free throws (58 percent) and the Lady Wildcats were seven of nine for 78 percent accuracy from the charity stripe.

Ilwaco ends its regular season with an 8-12 mark and LaCenter goes into post-season play with a 14-5 record. Kary, Bliss and senior cheerleaders Kayla Calabrese, Lacey Coleman, Sabrina Gravlee, Kaysi Kelly, and Emily Thorne were honored before the game on Senior Night.

The Lady Fishermen JV's won their finale 44-37. Sophomores Kate Denton, Kelsey Gardner, Ashley Tapio, and Brittnee Pattison were on the squad as were freshmen Sydney Ward, Kady Kirby, Desi Grieve, Sylvia Sebastian, Haily Bundy, and Nichole Lopez.

ILWACO - Aimee Banuet, Marin McDonnell 2, Vallori Crowston 5, Alexa Wirkkala 8, Melany Bliss 5, Kenzi Wirkkala 4, Lanie Kary 15

LaCenter-Shay Cheeseman 5, Sydney Wise 2, Kassy Verhagen 4, Katrina CKhamberlain 4, Hannah Trigg 15, Lauren Baker 7, Brooke Gaston 11

Lady Fishermen net 65-33 win over NooksKALAMA - The Lady Chinooks hung with Ilwaco for a quarter, but then the Lady Fishermen out-scored Kalama 53-22 over the final three periods to come away with a 65-33 Trico League romp there Tuesday.

Lanie Kary was the dominating presence inside and Vallori Crowston was the gyro outside for the Lady Fishermen as each rolled in 17 points and provided enough scoring punch to win the game on their own. Ilwaco reeled off 25 points in the second period, due in large part to defense according to coach Ned Bittner.

"We were able to turn up the pressure in the second quarter, create more turnovers, get easy transition baskets, and then that allowed us to set up our full-court press."

Kalama trailed only 12-11 after the first period, thanks to a pair of "three's" early in the contest. The Lady Chinooks, who lived by the "three" early, died by the "three" the rest of the way as they made only one more shot from beyond the arc in a total of 14 tries in the fray.

"This was a good tune-up for us. After we relaxed in the second period and were more intense on defense our offense came around, as well," Bittner explained.

The Lady Fishermen had a huge 58-35 advantage on the glass and forced 35 turnovers, while losing only 26. Kary produced her fifteenth double-double of the season by corralling 10 rebounds to go with her 17 tallies.

ILWACO-Aimee Banuet 5, Marin McDonnell 4, Cameo Ulbricht 2, Vallori Crowston 17, Alexa Wirkkala 8, Katie Kirby 1, Melany Bliss 5, Ashley Tapio 2, Kenzi Wirkkala 4, Lanie Kary 17 Sydney Ward

KALAMA--Susie Arn, Haley Bellows 7, Tiffany Ruppaner 5, Shelby Massey, Stephanie Saracco 6, Tailor Loree 4, Kayla Palmer 3, Jenna Denton 7, Molly Campbell, Sofia Calixtro 1

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