ARLINGTON — With one senior, two juniors and eight sophomores it’s safe to say the Arlington girls basketball team has a lot of youth.
A fact that both excited and scared Eagles head coach Joe Marsh heading into Arlington’s season opener.
The kids were all right, though, Wednesday night, with sophomores Jayla Russ scoring 15 points and Gracie Castaneda adding 12 as Arlington opened its season with a 56-40 nonconference win over rival Marysville Pilchuck.
“Our starting five is solid. They have a lot of experience. When you get to the bench, we’re a little young,” Marsh said. “But I’m really happy with our effort tonight. It’s the first game. It’s going to be a little raggedy.”
Arlington lost six seniors from last year’s squad that finished second in the 4A state tournament. Many of the sophomores from this year’s team, such as Castaneda and Russ, were on that team and played some big minutes.
Russ established herself as a scoring threat in the Tacoma Dome as a freshman and that’s carried over to her sophomore campaign. Russ led her team in scoring and grabbed five rebounds despite sitting out much of the second half because of foul trouble.
“Jayla got in foul trouble and came in at the end of the game and kind of put it away for us,” Marsh said of Russ, who had seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. “…Jayla sitting there for long stretches is tough for us.”
In Russ’ absence, Jessica Ludwig and Emma Janousek helped bolster the Eagles’ offense — and defense. Ludwig had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Janousek, another sophomore, had five steals for Arlington, which disrupted the Tomahawks with its full-court pressure.
“I think Emma Janousek was definitely solid all night,” Marsh said. “She did just a tremendous job defensively tonight.”
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead, scoring the game’s first 10 points. Marysville Pilchuck fought back in the second quarter and claimed the lead midway through. But with the score tied at 17, Arlington ended the half with a 7-0 run — thanks in large part to two steals by Ludwig that both resulted in points for the Eagles, who built a 24-17 halftime lead.
A 19-9 third quarter advantage for Arlington all but sealed the game against Marysville Pilchuck.
The Tomahawks are in a much different position than the Eagles, with seven seniors returning to a veteran squad that has high hopes for this season.
“They’re a veteran team. They’re going to keep getting better and better,” Marsh said. “They have a lot of length. I was a little worried about the length of their guards. They gave us some troubles tonight.”
Jenika Anglim led the Tomahawks with 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. Jordan Bengen scored 12 points and had six rebounds and Charlee Pilon added eight points and seven rebounds. All three players are seniors for Marysville Pilchuck.
Everytime the Tomahawks made a run Arlington was there to counter. Castaneda, who also grabbed four steals, made a couple big baskets in the first half and a pair of important 3-pointers in the third quarter to give Arlington some insurance points.
“Gracie just hit key shot after key shot,” Marsh said. “She was on our bench last year and would come in and play late in games. She got some valuable minutes. She was great tonight on both defense and offense.”
Marsh said the Eagles still have a lot of areas where they need to improve but for now he’s just thrilled to get the games underway.
The Arlington coach is also excited to see some different faces on the court.
“It’s good to play somebody else. It’s been two weeks and we’ve faced off against each other,” Marsh said. “With the youth it’s good to go out and get a varsity win. It’s great experience.”
At Arlington H.S.
Marysville Pilchuck 4 13 9 14 — 40
Arlington 10 14 19 13 — 56
Marysville Pilchuck—Charlee Pilon 8, Amanda Klep 4, Megan Owens 10, Halie Romo 0, Jenika Anglim 16, Amanda Kalab 0, Jordan Bengen 12, Marley Reynolds 0, Binta Bojang 0. Arlington—Gracie Castaneda 12, Serafina Balderas 8, Sarah Shortt 0, Sevi Bielser 2, Brittany DeNike 0, Olivia Larson 0, Emma Janousek 2, Emmi Modahl 0, Jessica Ludwig 13, Jayla Russ 15, Lyndsay Leatherman 4. 3-point goals—Pilon 2, Castaneda 2, Balderas 1, Ludwig 3, Russ 3. Records—Marysville Pilchuck 0-1 overall. Arlington 1-0.