ILWACO - Ilwaco boys basketball coach Matt Blair is hopeful he is reloading and not rebuilding in 2003-04, after his Fishermen earned the school's first-ever 2A State Tournament trophy last year.
"Our goal this season is to play hard and play together against every opponent. If we do that we should be in the middle of the Trico League and make it to district," the fourth-year Ilwaco coach said. "Once district starts, anything can happen."
He knows that from last season as the Fishermen finished fourth in league, were also among the top four in District IV, and then split four games at the Sun Dome to capture seventh place at state.
"Ryan Cadwell is the only starter returning, but he's a special kid. He's a leader, a catalyst, he can inspire a team and his attitude is contagious - that's why I'm optimistic about this season," Blair said.
Ilwaco Boys Basketball2003-04 at a Glance:
Last season - Fishermen overachieved by bagging seventh place in the Sun Dome, finishing 17-10
Key losses- All-state Andy Hudkins, Kyle Kaino, David Thorne, Dustin Starr, Adam Ellsworth
Key returnees - Ryan Cadwell, Rocky Mirelez, and Tony Crete
Prediction - Cadwell should excel as the go-to guy and Mirelez, Crete, Randy Wiegardt, and company could defense their way to State again.
Rocky Mirelez and Jordan Williams at guard both started at times and played roles in the team's success last year at State. Tony Crete, Randy Wiegardt and Tommy Inserra came off the bench as inside players and also played in Yakima, as did guard Ryan Gray. All will be counted on to step up this season.
"This is their year to produce, to be in the spotlight," Blair said of the seniors. "These guys will have their chance to show what they've learned from the teams before them." Transfer students Shane Padgett and Guy Jackson are also vying for playing time.
Peter Gaynor, Dylan Wirkkala, Shaun Peterson and Jared Schaak could also help as could Mooch Smith, Nick Leonard, and Joe Goelz according to Blair. The Fishermen are assisted by coaches Chris Hill and Paul Jacobsen.
"We have good numbers, but lack varsity experience," Blair said. Another solid season of team defense and rebounding, with Cadwell sparking the offense, and don't be surprised if the Fishermen play like Cinderella again and attend the big dance this March with the likes of Hoquiam, Ridgefield, and LaCenter.