ROCHESTER — Rainier kept it within striking distance through the first half then collapsed in the second half in a 74-49 defeat by Ilwaco in a 2B District 4 playoff elimination game on Friday …
ROCHESTER — Rainier kept it within striking distance through the first half then collapsed in the second half in a 74-49 defeat by Ilwaco in a 2B District 4 playoff elimination game on Friday at Rochester High School.
As the Mountaineers’ offense struggled to knock down shots in the first half, they still just trailed 24-20 heading into halftime behind a staunch defensive effort.
But the 2B Pacific League champion Fishermen came blasting out the gates after the break, reeling off a 22-6 run to start the third quarter and taking a commanding 51-32 lead heading into the final frame.
Ilwaco again busted off a big run, this time 16-7, as the Fishermen put the finishing touches on Rainier’s defeat.
Senior Ian Sprouffske led the Mountaineers with a team-high 17 points, while freshman Jake Meldrum added 12 and Josh Meldrum finished with seven.
Sprouffske said it was a tough end for a group of eight seniors who’ve been playing together since they were in second grade. But he knows what he’ll remember about this team.
“How much we fought and how hard we worked,” Sprouffske said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted but we worked hard all year. We’ve been together a long time.”
Ilwaco had five players score in double digits, led by sophomore Beckett Turner’s game-high 18.
First-year Rainier coach Ben Sheaffer said despite the loss, the Mountaineers have a lot to keep their heads held high about. The Mountaineers finished 13-8 overall in the tough Central 2B League and won a district playoff game, only losing to two of the top teams in the 2B Pacific League at districts.
“We did some good things this year with our seniors,” Sheaffer said “We didn’t want it to end this way but they have a ton to be proud of. I know our Rainier community is proud of those kids. I think what they left was a legacy of toughness.”
Seniors playing in their final high school game were Sprouffske, Logan Bowers, Curtis Keller, David Cano III, Thomas Ronne, Dylan Davis, Ethan Gonzalez and Brandon Diehl.
What Sheaffer will remember most about this group is their resiliency and willingness to never give up.
“I think in terms of being successful in life, I have no doubt they’re going to do that based on the grit and determination they have,” Sheaffer said. “I’m just really grateful that I got the opportunity to coach these guys. They brought it every single day. We didn’t always execute the way we wanted to but one thing’s for sure, we always competed.”
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