ILWACO - "It's nice to get a win," Coach Ned Bittner said after his Ilwaco girls defeated a touring team from Albany, Australia 52-32 at home Monday to break a four-game losing skid. "We had balanced scoring and competed well against their size inside. We attacked their zone effectively, rebounded well and our press created lots of turnovers."
Vallori Crowston began the contest with a coast-to-coast basket off a steal and her three first-period assists helped Ilwaco jump to a 12-6 lead over the Aussies after one period. Ashley Tapio scored four of her eight points in the paint to kick off the second period and help the Lady Fishermen to a 16-8 advantage. Aimee Banuet rolled in four of her season-high 11 points later in the quarter as Ilwaco fashioned a 27-15 edge at intermission.
An 8-0 Lady Fishermen outburst to begin the second half effectively put the game away as Ilwaco sprang to a 35-15 lead at the 5:48 mark of the third stanza. Crowston scored four points and Tapio and Banuet each contributed two points to the run. Kenzi Wirkkala hit a jumper in the lane to close the third frame with Ilwaco comfortably ahead 41-18.
"Vallori Crowston distributed the basketball well tonight at point guard and made sure everyone was involved in our offense and Aimee Banuet came off the bench to give us a scoring spark, especially in the first half. Ashley Tapio, Kenzi Wirkkala and Carley Kitzman all played very well inside against their bigger post players," Bittner praised.
Kitzman scored a season-high nine tallies and added 10 rebounds. Crowston had six points, six assists and six steals, Kenzi Wirkkala and Tapio each contributed eight points, Marin McDonnell scored six and Alexa Wirkkala and Erin Kelly each added a pair of points to the Lady Fishermen's happy totals. India Ashboth led the Lady Raiders with 16 points and a dozen rebounds for a double-double.
The girls from Down Under were 12-48 from the field for a miserly 25 percent and converted only 8-22 from the charity stripe for 36 percent, while Ilwaco was 3-7 from the line (43 percent) and 24-77 from the floor (30 percent) as they fired at will against the Aussies.
Each team garnered 51 rebounds apiece as no less than 102 shots fell awry in the game. Albany turned the basketball over 36 times to Ilwaco's 17 and the Lady Fishermen were whistled for 17 fouls to a dozen for the visitors. Ilwaco is now 3-4 in non-league contests this season, while Albany is 0-5 during their competition against Washington teams.
Every three seasons the WIAA allows basketball teams in Washington to play exhibition games against squads from other countries that do not count towards the strict 20-game regular season limit. Albany is located on the western coast of Australia and the school is similar in size to Ilwaco High School.