CHEHALIS - Kyle Breckinridge hit his second "three" of the game (and fourth of the season) with 1:30 remaining and then Karl Oman sank four foul shots down the stretch to help Ilwaco pull out a 59-53 winner-to-state victory over Ridgefield in District IV play at Chehalis Wednesday, Feb. 16.
The victory set two milestones in the Fishermen's storied hoops history-2011 marks the first time Ilwaco has gone to a state tournament three times in a row and Oman broke Paul Jarrett's school record for points by scoring 22 and now has 1,792 to Jarrett's 1,768.
But the key to the Fishermen's success on this night was a defensive plan by coach Kip Meinhardt and the way Ilwaco carried out that plan to hold the Spudder's scoring machine Sam Landerholm under 20 points. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard canned a pair of NBA treys in the final two minutes of the game, but was held to 13 for the contest.
"Keeping Landerholm down was the only way we were going to win and our 2-3 zone accomplished that," Meinhardt explained. Their two posts got a lot of second shots that kept them in it, but Ryan Kukula and Patrick Whealdon made three-pointers early and Karl and Kyle kept us going."
Ilwaco was 11-14 from the foul line, but missed three of their last four. Make that Oman was 11-14 as he was the only Fishermen to go to the charity stripe. "I thought those last shots were going in, but they took funny bounces," he said after making 10 in a row under the pressure of a loser-out game and the scoring record. "I'm so proud of our team and I'm honored to pass Mr. Jarrett because I can't even touch him as a player," Oman humbly said of his freshman coach.
The game was tied seven times and the lead changed hands on 11 occasions in a contest all five Ilwaco seniors, Oman, Breckinridge, Bobby Byrd, Kukula, and Whealdon, said they were nervous, even with 12 seconds left and a five-point advantage. The quintet has started all 25 games for the 17-8 Fishermen this season.
"This is a very special win for our seniors, for our school, and for our community. The guys came out fired up right out of the gate and that's what it took to beat a very good Ridgefield team," Meinhardt said. "I'm not too happy that we are going to have to play seven (post-season) games and go to Snohomish to probably have to play two powerhouse private schools just to get to Yakima, but tonight I'll enjoy this win with the guys."
Breckinridge finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Oman scored 22 and dished out six assists, Kukula hit three treys, Whealdon sank two from beyond the arc, and Byrd and Kasey Plato each scored a pair. Ilwaco and the Spudders each had 35 rebounds and seven assists and the two teams now have split a pair of league games and a two playoff games.
The Fishermen sank 19-50 from the field, including 10 "three's" and Oman was 11-14 from the stripe for 79 percent, while Ridgefield was 23-60 from the floor (38 percent) with five treys and they were 2-2 from the line. Ilwaco won the coin flip for third place in district and Kalama, who upset Trico champion Toledo 76-50, is fourth and will play their regional game in Chehalis.
Inexplicably the WIAA scheduled the District IV higher seed with an "away" regional game Friday, Feb. 25 at Glacier Peak.