TACOMA – A year ago at the Tacoma Dome, it seemed nothing could go wrong for the Arlington girls basketball team during its run to the 4A state championship game and a second-place finish at the state tournament.
In Thursday’s state quarterfinal on the very same stage, it seemed nothing went right.
Moses Lake overcame poor shooting and a first-quarter deficit to defeat the Eagles 46-28 and advance to today’s semifinal against Mount Rainier.
Both teams struggled offensively in the early going, but the Eagles never came out of their slump, finishing the game 10-for-44 (22.7%) from the field.
“This is one of the very few times this season where our youth showed,” Arlington head coach Joe Marsh said. “I thought we came out in the first quarter and did a pretty good job and then I think we got tentative.”
As bad as the Eagles shot from the field in the first half – 6-for-22 – they were even worse after halftime, making just four of their final 22 attempts.
“I looked at those shooting percentages and you aren’t going to win a game at state shooting like that and scoring 28 points,” Marsh said. “It’s just not going to happen. Teams are too good. I’m just disappointed that that’s the way we represented tonight because that’s not what we’ve done all year.”
The Eagles intended on getting senior post Lyndsay Leatherman involved early establishing her size advantage in the paint.
The Chiefs were up to the challenge.
Leatherman was unable to gain an advantage offensively and Moses Lake controlled the boards throughout the game.
“They did a really good job with Lyndsay Leatherman,” Marsh said. “They were prepared for her and we struggled because normally she gives us those easy buckets and relieves some of the pressure.”
Leatherman shot 2-for-5 from the field and finished with four points and nine rebounds. Moses Lake outrebounded Arlington 44-30 for the game.
Possibly anticipating the Eagles would go to Leatherman, the Chiefs packed the lane against her for most of the game.
“She literally had three and four people on her the entire time,” Marsh said. “We prepared for that this week, getting the ball out of that post, reversing it and getting some open looks, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
After falling behind 9-5 in the game’s opening minutes, Moses Lake closed the quarter on a 4-0 to tie game going into the second period. Gracie Castaneda ‘s driving layup with 3:35 to play in the first half gave the Eagles a 15-12 lead.
The Eagles didn’t score again until there was 3:02 to play in the third quarter.
Despite the drought the Eagles remained in the game for most of the third quarter, but Emily Olson’s old fashioned 3-point play with 1:23 left changed that. Olson, who led all scorers with 17, was fouled by sophomore Jayla Russ on a breakaway, Russ’ fourth personal foul. Making matters worse for the Eagles, Russ left the game with a knee injury. After getting checked out by medical staff, she returned to the game in the fourth quarter, but by that time the damage had been done.
“I think for sure that hurts us,” Marsh said of Russ’s injury. “Jayla’s one of our top players and she gives us a presence on both ends of the floor.
“When we need buckets we go to Jayla a lot. And so when she’s out of that game we kind of struggled. You could see us kind of looking (and wondering) where are we going to go to get a basket. We didn’t know where we were going to go so we didn’t really get them.”
Marsh said Russ, who finished with nine points to lead Arlington, bruised her knee and should be fine for today’s loser-out game against Inglemoor.
The lone bright spot for the Eagles was their defense, which kept Arlington in the game for 3½ quarters.
“That’s the thing that’s gotten us here,” Marsh said. “We’ve done this all year. Usually if we hold teams to 40 points we feel pretty good about it. We usually score enough baskets to get us over the top. Defensively, we did a decent job tonight. They got some easy layups off the press a couple of times, but I don’t feel like that was the thing that hurt us. It was really just on the offensive end.
“When you don’t score it’s tough to win in a state game.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Tacoma Dome
Arlington 9 6 9 4 – 28
Moses Lake – 9 10 11 16 – 46
Arlington–Gracie Castaneda 2, Serafina Balderas 1, Sarah Shortt 0, Sevi Bielser 0, Brittany DeNike 0, Olivia Larson 0, Emma Janousek 7, Jessica Ludwig 5, Jayla Russ 9, Lyndsay Leatherman 4. Moses Lake–Alysha Overland 2, Madison Tudor 0, Santana Anderson 2, Stephanie Overland 0, Hailee Bishop 0, Jessie Loera 5, McKenna Walker 8, Selina Koon 2, Emily Olson 17, Avery Clark 2, Carina LeFave 5, Kaitlyn Stevens 3. 3-point goals–Janousek 2, Russ 1, Loera 1. Records–Arlington 21-5. Moses Lake 20-4.