By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — In a game full of college-bound seniors, Arlington sophomore Jayla Russ stole the show, scoring 22 points as the Eagles defeated Jackson 57-38 in a 4A District 1 semifinal game Friday night.
“Jayla had a great game tonight,” Arlington coach Joe Marsh said. “She’s got a ton of talent and she’s putting it together.”
Arlington advances to state for the second time in as many years and will take on Lynnwood next Friday in the District 1 championship — 6 p.m. at Glacier Peak High School.
“It feels like last year again,” Russ said of the team’s run to the 2013 4A state finals.
Though Russ led all scorers and made three 3-pointers, Arlington’s smothering defense was just as important to the outcome.
“Our defense was great tonight,” Marsh said.
For the second consecutive game against Arlington, Jackson senior Kelli Kingma, who will play on the college stage for the University of Washington, was held without a field goal in three of four quarters. The Eagles denied the senior guard open looks on the perimeter and ensured any of Kingma’s shots would be contested. Kingma averaged 15.6 points a game coming into the contest, but didn’t make a shot Friday until 6:12 remained in the game with her team trailing 44-29.
After the game, Marsh revealed his gameplan for slowing down Jackson’s talented guard.
“We put somebody next to her and (told) her not to go away,” the coach said.
Arlington’s Gracie Castaneda — another sophomore — drew the assignment on Kingma for most of the game.
Kingma did make three consecutive shots at one point to cut Jackson’s deficit to 44-34 with 4:56 to go in the game. Then a 9-0 run by Arlington made the game a blowout.
Marsh’s roster features eight sophomores but he told them before the game, they aren’t sophomores anymore. That after what they’ve done this regular season, they’ve already graduated.
On Jan. 22, Jackson squandered a 18-point, second-quarter lead against Arlington but held on for a 58-56 victory on its home floor in the teams’ only regular-season meeting. The Eagles did not forget that loss and made sure Friday night wouldn’t be a repeat.
“It means so much,” Russ said. “I feel like we weren’t ready for them last time. We just came ready to play and (the victory) feels amazing.”
Marsh said missed free throws by his team were the difference in the earlier loss to Jackson. This time, the Eagles didn’t let poor shooting from the foul-line become a factor.
“We didn’t play our best basketball last time around,” Marsh said. “But we did that tonight.”
For Jackson, which hosts Monroe at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in the first of potentially three-straight loser-out contests before the 4A state tournament, it was all about missed opportunities early.
Arlington jumped out to a 9-0 edge and the Timberwolves got off shots but they weren’t falling.
“We couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean,” coach Mark Haner said.
Haner said the chances were there, but they were contested and nothing seemed to fall.
“I really couldn’t complain about the shots we took in the first half,” he said.
With University of Montana-bound senior Sierra Anderson and Kingma held to a combined seven points and two field goals in the first half, the Timberwolves really missed senior Faithaleen Lopez-Flores (15.9 points per gameaverage). She is out of the season with an ACL injury. Lopez-Flores scored 18 in the T-Wolves’ victory Jan. 22. Anderson led the Timberwolves Friday with 16 points.
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Jackson 9 9 6 14 — 38
Arlington 18 11 13 15 — 57
Jackson—Anderson 16, Kingma 9, Clinton 4, Kipp 2, Johnson 6, Locknane 0, Jackson, Boyd 1. Arlington—Castaneda 6, Balderas 0, Shortt 0, Biesler 0, DeNike 3, Janousek 8, Ludwig 14, Russ 22, Leatherman 4. Three-Point Goals—Ludwig 2, Russ 3, Anderson 1, Kingma 1. Jackson (16-6 overall), Arlington (19-3).