Fifth-year Ilwaco coach Tim Harrell remembers back when teams were afforded six or seven nonleague tune-up games before league play began.
Most teams around the state still have that luxury. In the Pacific 2B League, though, things are different.
But after Harrell’s Fishermen dispatched Chief Leschi 72-33 on Wednesday in a game that served as both a season and league opener, he can’t complain.
“I knew through the course of the summer what it would look like,” Harrell said. “We’ve still got a ton of work to do to get things cleaned up, but it was a good way to start.”
Parker Kaech had a breakout night, coming off the bench to score 17 points. Alex Kaino added 15 and Reese Tynkila scored 10. Tenyson Ramsey finished with 10 points, four steals, seven assists and 11 rebounds.
“I thought our defense played phenomenal,” Kaech said. “Really the steals opened up the floor for us.”
The Fishermen took an early lead behind some stellar defense that forced Chief Leschi into sloppy turnovers while Ramsey and Kaino led the transition game to get the athletic Fishermen easy buckets.
When things didn’t come so quickly, big man Joe Nisbett was a focal point of the offense — he finished with seven — and Tynkila did some strong man work inside. Jeb Sheldon was also praised for his gritty play down low.
“We’ve got to continue to develop that (post game),” Harrell said. “We’ve lost a couple of our outside shooting threats. … So the one thing that’s consistent is that we’ve got a couple big, wide-shouldered boys. So we want to get it down in there and take advantage of it.”
And the good part about starting league play so early is the Fishermen now have a win in what’s recently been a competitive division behind Life Christian Academy.
The tightly knit squad has high hopes for the season, and through 32 minutes, things are nothing short of cheerful in the Ilwaco locker room.
“It’s wonderful to have a game like this,” Kaech said. “It really boosts the confidence, and I think it should carry over to the next games.”