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Ilwaco's Reese Tynkila leads an all-senior starting five. 

Ilwaco hasn’t made state since 2011, but a class of seniors will be looking to change that Saturday.

The key this season has been cohesiveness, but let’s not forget scoring leader Reese Tynkila, who’s stepped his game up and has the Fishermen looking for big bites this year. A win on Saturday would secure a regional berth for the Fishermen, a strong second-place finish in the Pacific 2B League the reason for optimism.

“With Reese, he figured out a better understanding of his game,” Ilwaco coach Tim Harrell said. “He’s taking great shots in the flow of our offense. … “When he gets going, he really heats up.”

Tynkila led Ilwaco in scoring last year with 13.8 points per game, but that’s been elevated to 16.4 this season. The Fishermen, too, have seen an increase of more than 10 points per game.

“I feel like the team has gelled really well this year. Everyone is in the flow and we’re playing better as a group,” Tynkila said. “For me this year, I’m a lot more focused knowing that it was my final year. That’s been a big thing for all of us.”

The five-senior starting group undoubtedly carries extra motivation knowing it’s their final hurrah, and that experience is aiding the cause. But Tynkila’s scoring outbursts — which have turned close games into blowouts a few times this season — have proven pivotal. And when games are tight, when the clock winds down in the fourth quarter, that’s when he’s most dangerous.

“I have a mean intensity where it just clicks, and when I feel that, I know I’m going to have a good game,” Tynkila said. “I don’t think about anything, I just play basketball.”

Harrell has seen it plenty over the last 10 years, having been with the group of seniors since youth ball.

“The kid gets into a groove and the basket grows in size,” Harrell said. “He’s super athletic, and an explosive jumper. At 6-foot-1, he can drop step and drop it down, dunk it. … He can lead with his effort or with his play on the floor”

That’s Tynkila’s role, and it’s something he’s improved on plenty this year. Harrell said he’s become a smarter player, picking open spots better, and grown more instinctive. What motivates Tynkila this year, though, isn’t to prove he can score, and not simply knowing his final games of high school are in the immediate future.

“My team motivates me all the way,” Tynkila said. “This year has been most gelled team of five that we’ve had. It brings a little more hope that we can win each game and hopefully make it to Spokane.”

A win Saturday will guarantee just that.

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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