CHEHALIS — It was closer than it looked. But not close enough to prevent Raymond’s girls from entering the single-elimination phase of state.
Reeling off 15 of the game’s final 16 points, Ilwaco finished off a 57-36 victory over the Seagulls in a regional Class 2B girls basketball contest Saturday at Chehalis.
Seeded into the double-elimination regional bracket by virtue of their high state RPI rankings, both teams were guaranteed trips to the state 2B tourney in Spokane. But, by beating the Gulls for the third time in four meetings, the Fishermen (22-4) advanced directly to Thursday’s quarterfinals and are assured of at least two state contests.
The Gulls (21-6) will face White Swan in Wednesday’s single-elimination opening round. That contest is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Both a force in the paint and agile enough to run the floor exceptionally well, 5-foot-10 Ilwaco junior Makenzie Kaech led all scorers with 21 points. Sophomore guard Ebby McMullen scored 11 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter for the Fishermen.
Senior guard Aubree Gardner was Raymond’s lone double-figure scorer with 11 points.
The smaller Gulls held their own in rebounding, losing the boards only 36-33. But Ilwaco made its size felt in other respects.
Kaech, 6-foot junior Madeline Jacobson and even the 5-6 McMullen presented match-up problems for the Gulls underneath. Raymond’s attempts to take the ball inside frequently resulted in a blocked shot.
That forced the Gulls to rely predominantly on their perimeter shooting. Despite moving the ball well for open shots, they hit only 2-of-12 from 3-point territory in the first half.
”Our kids were getting their feet set and shooting in rhythm,” Raymond coach Jason Koski observed. “We weren’t getting rewarded and then we started pressing.”
Nevertheless, it briefly appeared as if the Gulls might be able to duplicate their come-from-behind victory at Ilwaco — their only win in the four-game series.
Down by as many as 12 midway through the second quarter, the Gulls trimmed the margin to eight at the half and to four (29-25) when Makenna Williams and Winter Newman opened the second half with baskets.
Moments later, Gardner connected on a pair of 3-pointers that sliced Ilwaco’s lead to 33-31 with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was 38-32 entering the final period.
The Gulls, however, were guilty of turnovers on their opening two possessions of the fourth quarter. Ilwaco’s Eliza Bannister and Kaech converted both of them to increase the spread to 10.
Raymond was within seven at 42-35 on Mikayla Collins’ rebound basket with about six minutes left, but didn’t muster another field goal the rest of the way. McMullen, meanwhile, was shaking free for putbacks and breakaway layins on Ilwaco’s sprint to the wire.
“Unfortunately, the game is 32 minutes and we played about 27,” Koski summarized. “Everything has to go right for us (against this team). But I can’t fault my kids’ effort for 27-28 minutes.”
Tireless as always underneath, the 5-10 Collins finished with 13 rebounds. Raymond’s lone junior starter, Williams contributed seven points and eight rebounds.
Raymond committed 10 of its 13 turnovers in the second half.
Ilwaco 14 15 9 19 — 57 Raymond 10 11 11 4 — 36
Ilwaco (57) — Bannister 7, McMullen 20, Benenati, Kaech 21, Jacobson 7, Kulm 2, Thomas, E. Sheldon, Simonson, T. Sheldon. FG — 26-67 (.388). FT — 1-3.