SNOHOMISH — With a strong defensive effort from start to finish and an offense that finally got untracked after one quarter, the Arlington girls basketball team rolled past Snohomish 48-37 on Tuesday in an early-season showdown for first place in the Western Conference 4A North.
Snohomish led 11-9 after a rag-tag opening quarter for both teams, but in the second quarter the visiting Eagles took control. Arlington began the period with a 10-0 scoring burst to go in front 19-11, and the lead never dropped below six points the rest of the game.
And whenever the Panthers threatened to rally, Arlington regained command with an unyielding defense.
“The difference for us in the early part of the season has been our defense, and it was excellent again tonight,” said Eagles coach Joe Marsh, whose team improved to 6-0 this season and 3-0 in the Wesco North.
Arlington’s defense is rugged and relentless, and it can give fits to opposing offenses — as it did at times against Snohomish, which saw its records drop to 5-2 and 2-1. The Eagles contest every pass and continually have their hands around the ball, often resulting in a flurry of turnovers.
“We’ve been preaching, ‘Buy into defense because that’s what’s going to win you games late in the season,’” Marsh said. “Our offense is going to get better and better — it wasn’t great tonight and we’re going to keep working on that — but defense is the thing that we’re really pushing. And they’ve bought it.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever in my coaching career had a group that works as hard as these kids. They just work hard, and that makes it easy for the coach to convince them that defense is going to pay dividends. Because if we can keep playing defense like this, I’m excited to move forward.”
Senior guard Krista Showalter sparked Arlington’s early second quarter scoring run with a three-point play, putting the Eagles on top to stay. Teammate Jessica Ludwig followed with a free throw, Winter Brown dropped in a 3-point goal and, moments later, a runner from left of the key, and Showalter closed the 10-0 string with a free throw.
The teams traded points the rest of the period, but in the early moments of the third quarter Arlington ran off another seven unanswered points for a 33-18 margin. The lead reached a high of 17 points, 44-27, midway through the fourth quarter before the Panthers whittled the deficit to 11 points at the final horn.
The Eagles were obviously aware of Snohomish’s record, which included an impressive 46-43 win over Wesco North contender Lake Stevens on Friday.
“This was a big game,” Marsh acknowledged, “but I didn’t want to overdo that part of it because it’s still early in the season.
“Snohomish is a good team. They’ve been playing really well and this is a tough place to win. You know you’re in for a battle when you come in here. But this team is not afraid of a battle, and they came in here and took care of business.”
Panthers coach Ken Roberts, meanwhile, was pleased by some aspects of the game, but disappointed by others. In particular, he said, “our kids fundamentally have to get the ball protected a little better at the offensive end. Arlington is a really good basketball team and they’re very physical.”
The Eagles also have a decided edge in experience. Arlington starts five seniors, while Snohomish has just two on its entire roster.
“They’re a couple of years older than us at a lot of positions, so they’re a little stronger,” Roberts said. “But our kids will never quit.”
At Snohomish HS
Arlington—Taylor Graham 6, Veronica Ladines 0, Lindsay Brown 7, Krista Showalter 10, Emma Janousek 1, Jessica Ludwig 5, Winter Brown 12, Jayla Russ 7. Snohomish—Morgan Green 1, Ellie Otteson 5, Hannah Berntson 2, Shaylee Harwood 1, Callie Harwood 3, Kayla Lachapelle 10, Madeline Smith 12, Paige Helms 3, Bailey Armbruster 0, Tara Harms 0. 3-point goals—Graham 2, Showalter 1, Brown 2, Otteson 1, C. Harwood 1, Lachapelle 2. Records—Arlington is 3-0 in league, 6-0 overall. Snohomish is 2-1, 5-2.