ILWACO - In 1954, tiny Milan won the Indiana state basketball champion over a taller inner-city team from a huge school. Fifty years later class B North Beach came from behind to knock off 4A Shorecrest in the championship game of the 20-team Battle at the Beach summer hoop festival at Aase Gymnasium over the weekend.
The Hyaks trailed Shorecrest 36-20 in the second half but mounted a comeback that led to a 40-40 tie with nine minutes to play. MVP Kavin Williams shut down John Moe who had scored 17 points in the early going, and Devin Timpson used his amazing quickness to spur North Beach to a 63-57 triumph in the championship fray.
The trio joined Darius Hollinshed of Shorecrest, Aberdeen's Rick McKinney, and Selah's Dane Peterson on the All-star team. Williams was named MVP. Aberdeen and Selah shared third-place honors in the 20-team, 53-game extravaganza.
Ilwaco won their first contest in dramatic fashion against Tenino before falling in their next four contests. Freshman-to-be Casey Marsh sank a three-pointer with time running out in the first half to knot the score at 16-16. With 3:20 remaining and the score again tied at 28-28 Jordan Williams sank a 10-foot baseline jumper, stole the ball and set up Jarod Schaak for an inside hoop. He later scored on a driving layin to give the Fishermen a 34-30 lead. Dylan Wirkkala sank two free throws as did Tenino to finish the scoring at 36-30.
Joe Goelz, Mooch Smith, Mike Huitt, Jordan DeSimone, Scott Fagerland, and Matt Kaino rounded out Coach Matt Blair's summer team. The team lost to Hoquiam 45-21, Selah 50-20, and Toutle Lake 41-21 in pool play before being eliminated by Kalama 38-34.
With schools as small as class B and as large as 4A, players ranging from 5'2" to 6'9" and teams coming from as far away as Yakima and Seattle, the tournament has become a truly big-time event. Last season Hoquiam won the Battle of the Beach, ended up with a perfect 27-0 season, and a 2A state crown to their credit.
Class B North Beach and Toutle Lake were among the teams finishing 4-0 atop their pools during the first two days of the tourney. Watch for them to contend with Valley and State B champion Republic come next March in Spokane. The North Beach at Valley game should be one of the premier contests during next year's Class B schedule.
An Ilwaco Alumni team was forced into action to fill a last-minute vacancy caused by Forks dropping out of the Battle at the Beach. Cody and Larry Wirkkala, Chris Lemons, Andy Hudkins, Dustin Starr, Rocky Mirelez, Andy Long, Nick Noradoun, Joe Wilson, Steve Oman and Tony Crete filled the Alumni roster.
Volunteer referees included Tim Herrold, Blair, Chris Hill, Jon Kaino, Kip and Mark Meinhardt, Ned Bittner, Paul Jacobsen and Mirelez. Karen and Amy Veland and Mary Goelz were tireless as clock operators and score keepers. Lois Sampson worked the concessions stand, and Norm Grier was the ticket taker.
Coach Blair told his squad at the half of the Tenino victory, "You older guys have to teach the younger guys. Help them out, that's how we get better." After organizing, officiating, coaching, and doing everything from installing toilet paper to getting the game balls filled with air, Blair said Sunday afternoon, "I'm exhausted, but it was a great tournament."
Proceeds for the hoop tourney, which capped off the varsity summer basketball season, will go to supplement the boys' program. Ilwaco finished the summer league year by winning about half of their games.