CASTLE ROCK - Ilwaco girls edged Castle Rock 60-58 in Trico League play Tuesday in a key contest that put Ilwaco at 3-1 in League and 9-2 overall. The Lady Rockets are one of five teams vying with Ilwaco for four district berths, so the win was an important one for Coach Glenn Padgett.
"We were ahead most of the game but never by more than 6 points. Whenever we needed a basket we were able to go inside to Ashley Kitzman," he said. Kitzman tallied 30 points, half the Lady Fishermen total, and pulled down a whopping 18 rebounds. Ariel Barker snared her season-high 12 rebounds for Ilwaco and rolled in 6 points as the team out-boarded Castle Rock 34-26.
"Our two big kids (Kitzman and Barker) had to do well against their two post players (Stacey Fleming and Shauna Tinney) for us to win, and they did," Padgett explained. He also had praise for guard Katie Holmes, saying, "Several times Katie broke through their press and drove the length of the court to score, and she was able to do it when the game was tight at the end, also."
Holmes finished with 9 points.
Padgett also commended Robyn Unruh on her ability to handle the Lady Rocket's 3-1-1 full-court pressure throughout the contest.
With 1:33 remaining in the nip-and-tuck battle, Ilwaco was up 57-55. Kitzman was fouled and connected on both of her free throws, but Castle Rock swished a three-pointer from beyond the arc to draw to within one. Holly Hocking, who was pressed into service due to Ashley Fauver's being in foul trouble, calmly sank the first of two free tosses to put the Lady Fishermen's lead back to two at 60-58.
Kitzman scrambled to the corner to retrieve the rebound off Hocking's second shot and give Ilwaco a chance to use some of the clock. Again Hocking was fouled, but this time the Lady Rockets surrounded the rebound. In the final seconds, the home team was unable to get a shot off as time expired.
Holmes led Ilwaco with five steals, Anna Kitzman hit a key three-point try, and Hocking did well defensively, according to Padgett.
"We turned the ball over 14 times against their press, which was an important stat," he said. "We not only took care of the ball but were able to attack the basket when they pressed." The Lady Rockets also had 14 turnovers in the close encounter.
Ilwaco made 22 of 47 shots from the field for 47 percent, due in no small part to pounding the ball inside on offense and on being able to successfully break the press. The Lady Fishermen sank 13 of 21 free throws for 62 percent and committed 15 fouls to Castle Rock's 14 violations.
The Lady Rockets were 25-55 for a field goal percentage of 45 percent and made a mere four of eight tries from the charity stripe. The absence of last season's Trico League MVP guard, Brooke Fernandez, due to a season-ending knee injury and Fleming recovering from an ankle injury no doubt curtailed Castle Rock's performance.
Ilwaco JV's dropped to 1-6 as they were defeated 48-31. The contest was close after three quarters as Anna Kitzman poured in 18 points in two periods of play.
Ilwaco 13 17 15 15 - 60
Castle Rock 15 16 1 16 - 58
Ilwaco-Ashley Kitzman 30, Holmes 9, Fauver 4, Unruh 7, Barker 6, Anna Kitzman 3, Hocking 1.
Castle Rock-Tinney 18, Rahn 9, Opp 8, Fleming 8, Scalf 5, Stagner 2, Hope 2, Davidson 6.