ILWACO, Wash. - If third-year Fishermen basketball coach, Matt Blair, has his way this year, the "I" on his team's uniforms won't stand just for Ilwaco, but will also signify intensity. Blair, whose team finished 12-12 in 2001 and came within one game of going to the state tournament at the class 1A level, says, "I want to push the ball on offense and get as many easy baskets as possible."
It is defense where the coach really wants to crank up the pressure. "I want us to play a very physical game, use full court pressure the full 32 minutes, and use our numbers and athleticism to turn up the intensity on our opponents."
Ilwaco should have the personnel to do what their coach wishes. "We'll likely start five very good athletes, four of whom are seniors," Blair says. Andy Hudkins, Kyle Kaino, Ryan Cadwell (a junior), Dustin Starr, and David Thorne have been tabbed by the coach as early-season starters.
"We have a great deal of depth, and I plan to use guys interchangeably to keep the defensive pressure on our opponents," Blair says. He says Randy Wiegardt, Adam Ellsworth, Tony Crete, Rocky Mirelez and Ed Guelfi are all athletic players who could see plenty of playing time.
Garrett Binion, Tommy Inserra and Ryan Gray are also playing well early and will be considered for the varsity. "Inserra could end up being our sixth man, you never know," Blair said. Robbie Olson and freshmen Jordan Williams and Dylan Wirkkala have been working out with the varsity and will add even more depth to an already deep Fishermen team.
ILWACO BOYS BASKETBALL2002-03 Schedule
Dec. 2 at Toledo
Dec. 6 at Winlock
Dec. 10 Knappa
Dec. 13 Seaside
Dec. 17 Astoria
Dec. 19 at PeEll
Dec. 27-28 Holiday Classic
Jan. 6 La Center
Jan. 10 at Stevenson
Jan. 17 White Salmon
Jan. 21 at Castle Rock
Jan. 23 at Woodland
Jan. 27 Ridgefield
Jan. 31 at La Center
Feb. 4 Stevenson
Feb. 11 at White Salmon
Feb. 14 Castle Rock
Feb. 18 Woodland
Feb. 21 at Ridgefield
March 12-15 District, Yakima Offensively, besides utilizing the fast break whenever possible, the Fishermen plan on getting the ball inside to Hudkins and letting him either maneuver for a score or pass the ball back outside to the open man for an easy shot. "Andy plays like he's 6-foot-6 and passes well so much of our set offense will revolve around him," Blair explains.
The Fishermen are assisted by volunteer Paul Jacobson, junior varsity coach, Chris Hill, and C-squad mentor, Matt McKinstry.
"I think we will be in every game we play," Blair relates. "We have had strong practices to begin the season and we have a good crop of returning starters and lettermen with experience to be able to compete at the 2A level."
Blair believes La Center and Ridgefield may be the teams to beat in the Trico-League this season, but just like the NFL, on any given night anyone can upset anyone. "The key to placing high in League will be how teams play on the road," Blair predicts. "Hopefully, we will be able to take care of business at home, also, because every team in our district will have tremendous athletes on the court at all times."
If the difference between winning and losing will come down to depth and quickness, the Fishermen have a host of players just over the 6-foot mark who can fill the bill. And of course there is that word again - intensity - that could ultimately decide whether Ilwaco achieves a trip to Yakima for the State 2A tournament in March or not.