ILWACO - Jack Whealdon scored inside, outside, and all around the key as he poured in a career-high 31 points in leading the Fishermen over a long and talented touring squad from Albany, Australia 74-59 Monday at Carl Aase Gymnasium. The Raiders from Down Under rolled to a 23-19 lead after one period, but Ilwaco's defense adjusted to the pair of 6-foot-7 centers and after nine lead changes in the first three periods pulled away for their fifth non-league victory in seven tries.
The first five minutes of the second half Aussies David Stone and Luke Wilson used their superior height and leaping ability to combine for nine points and tie the contest at 45-45. It was then that the Fishermen picked up the tempo with a half-court trap press and active man-to-man defense and at the 6:26 mark of the final quarter built a 59-47 advantage. Whealdon rattled in two lay ups on feeds from first Karl Oman and Kolby Kirby. He then hit a long three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining and Chris Schommer nailed an old-fashioned three-point play to close out the third frame, giving Ilwaco a 55-47 lead. Kirby's driving, hanging lay in and a pair of free throws upped the Fishermen lead to a dozen points.
The twin towers of Stone and Wilson's combined five field goals brought the visitors to within 65-57 with 4:04 remaining in the final frame, but Oman and Whealdon united to connect on nine of a dozen free throws down the stretch and Cody Bliss's three steals of entry passes to centers nine inches taller than himself helped nail down the win for Ilwaco.
The first period was played at a frenetic pace and the Raiders kept the game above the rim as they used their height and athleticism to fashion a 23-19 advantage. Coach Kip Meinhardt switched to a zone defense to slow the pace and after the lead changed hands a total of nine times, it was Oman's basket and foul shot to end the half that gave Ilwaco the lead 37-36.
Meinhardt said, "Cody Bliss and Ross Kary did an exceptional job defensively on their tall, athletic post players and Chris Schommer came off the bench to take great care of the basketball and shoot well." The Fishermen had 13 turnovers for the contest to 28 for Albany and a key statistic was that they did not have a single miscue the final period. Oman, Whealdon and Kirby also contributed to the clean slate of turnovers in the late going and Oman had a season-high seven assists and Kirby passed for a pair.
"I was proud of the way our guys closed out the game tonight, taking care of the basketball and executing our offense. Our bench players contributed and we met our goal of having everyone fresh for the final period. Defensively we adjusted after they scored 23 points in the first period, we held them to 23 points for the entire second half," Meinhardt stated. "This game should be a confidence builder because we stepped up and every one of our guys really played tough against a physically strong team."
Albany is used to playing international rules, as evidenced by one time getting an offensive goal-tending call, legal overseas, but resulting in the basket being waved off in Ilwaco. The Aussies were assessed 25 fouls to 10 for the Fishermen as their style of play is aggressive, but not mean-spirited. Ilwaco took advantage to hit on 24-35 from the line for 69 percent, while Albany was 4-10 from the stripe.
The Raiders had a decided 42-24 edge on the glass, but by turning the ball over 28 times to Ilwaco's 13 turnovers that advantage was for the most part negated. Albany was 27-48 from the field (56 percent) as they were selective in their shots and got to the hoop often in the first three periods. Ilwaco made 24-54 from the floor for a credible 44 percent accuracy.
Whealdon led all scorers with 31 points and Oman added 17. Schommer contributed eight, Kirby seven, Justin Short five, Bliss four and Kary 2. Stone scored 18 for Albany and had a dozen rebounds and Wilson tallied 15 and nabbed 14 caroms as the pair each recorded double-doubles. Ilwaco is now 5-2 on the season.
In an impromptu junior varsity game Albany's reserves defeated the Ilwaco JV's 50-30. Ryan Kukula and Ryan Tapio each scored 11 points for the Fishermen and Justice Schenk sank a three.