ILWACO — Needing a win to clinch a home game for the district “loser-out” contest, Ilwaco matched La Center’s relentless defense and quickness and came away with a 47-37 Trico 1A League victory over the Lady Wildcats in Ilwaco Feb. 1.

“This game was huge because there was a lot riding on it. Our team hustled and won tonight so we can play the district game at home. Playing in Ilwaco is a great advantage for us. We always play better her in front of the big crowds,” senior guard Amanda Bell said.

The Lady Fishermen sewed up the fourth seed from the Trico League and they will host Montesano, fifth in the Evergreen League, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Carl Aase Gymnasium. The winner of that game enters the double-elimination 1A District IV tournament and the loser’s season is over.

“Our plan was to stop their very talented point guard (Katie Whitten) and Cindy Pacheco, Hannah Ellsworth, Grace McPhail and Amanda Bell did their best to stop her from penetrating to the basket. Jackie Smith and Jasmine Coffin also helped by controlling the boards,” coach Ned Bittner said.

“(Whitten) is very tough to stop, but we were able to adjust to the tempo of the game. We broke their press well and scored or pulled it out if we didn’t have a layin and set up our offense. The girls did a great job of competing and we have been playing well the last four or five games. It is a big lift to be hosting the district ‘play in’ game,” Bittner said.

Smith scored the first six points of the game on two put-backs and two foul shots and Pacheco found Coffin breaking to the basket for a layup to knot the score 8-8 after one period. The Lady Wildcats, and Whitten, fashioned a 21-18 lead at intermission despite “three’s” from Pacheco and Ellsworth.

Coffin scored 10 of her 17 points in the third period to help knot the score at 31-31 at the 3:29 mark. Whitten, who stands an even 5-foot tall, had pulled down eight rebounds, had seven steals and dished out six assists, while scoring 15 points. The diminutive and crafty guard then injured her shoulder and was out for the game.

Without her presence the Lady Fishermen out-scored La Center 16-6 and the Lady Wildcats made only one field goal the final 11 and a half minutes with Whitten on the bench. Coffin ended the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and two assists. Bell chimed in with three assists and five steals, while Smith finished with a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds. Pacheco scored eight points and McPhail tallied four and had four assists and five rebounds. Valerie Lindstrom hit a jump shot and had two steals, while Ellsworth finished with five points, two steals and two assists.

The Lady Wildcats were already locked in as the number three team out of the Trico League. They rested their leading scorer, 6-foot post Samantha Wise who injured her knee the game before and also sat out Whitten in hopes that the pair will be ready for their district “pig-tail” tussle with Forks.

Ilwaco was 18-46 from the field for 39 percent, including three treys and they hit 8-16 from the free toss line, while the Lady Wildcats were 14-46 for 30 percent and they sank two “three’s” and were a sub-par 7-16 from the line for 44 percent. The Lady Fishermen won the battle on the glass 36-34, but turned the ball over 26 times to 22 for La Center. Both teams were whistled for 19 fouls.

Ilwaco finishes 11-7 in the Trico and 13-7 overall, while La Center ends its season with a 13-5 league mark and they are 15-5 for the year.

La Center 8 13 12 4--37

Ilwaco 8 10 18 11--47

LA CENTER -- Katie Whitten 15, Danielle Larson, Allison Smith, Hannah Cromey 1, Katie Hebdon 2, Andrea Griffee 4, Rachel Moudy 4, Sierra Block 3, Ashley Denney 6, Amanda Moudy 2, Kayla Aguirre

ILWACO -- Grace McPhail 4, Amanda Bell, Jasmine Coffin 17, Jackie Smith 11, Hannah Ellsworth 5, Alicia Trusty, Valerie Lindstrom 2, Cindy Pacheco 8, Makenzie Dalton

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