ARLINGTON — Where there’s Smoke there’s fire.
And Arlington victories.
When his team needed a spark, Arlington’s Gavin Smoke caught fire. Smoke had 10 fourth-quarter points — to go along with the eight of Terry Dawn — as the Eagles came from behind to defeat Stanwood 54-49 in a nonconference game Tuesday night at Arlington High School.
Arlington outscored the Spartans 23-11 in the decisive fourth quarter, thanks in large part to Smoke who hit a 3-pointer to start the big run for the Eagles.
“Gavin hit that shot, that’s when the momentum shifted, at least for me,” said Arlington head coach Nick Brown. “… Gavin Smoke just came to play. He’s a fiery-hot kid. He can flat out play.”
Smoke, who finished with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer with 5:26 remaining in the game to cut Stanwood’s lead to three, after the Eagles trailed by as many as 11. He added another basket on Arlington’s next possession to cut their deficit to one.
With a large contingent of Eagles fans — dressed all in black — cheering and screaming, Arlington completed the comeback. Dawn went to the line, with the Arlington student section chanting, “Terry! Terry!” and sank two free throws with 33 seconds to play in the game, giving the Eagles a 52-49 lead.
“I was feeling it, but those chills started kicking in (on the free throws),” Dawn said. “I knew with those last two we were going to beat them. I knew I could do it.”
After Stanwood missed a couple 3-point attempts, Dawn — who also had eight rebounds and four steals — added his 18th and 19th points on two more free throws to give Arlington its final total.
“As a team we played an excellent game,” said Smoke, a junior. “We beat an excellent team in Stanwood.”
Arlington, which remains undefeated at 4-0 overall, led early, but a Cannen Roberson 3-pointer put Stanwood up 7-5 about five minutes into the first quarter. The Spartans then led all the way until there was 1:46 to play in the game, when Dawn tied the score at 48.
Junior Noah Jones had nine points and six rebounds for Arlington and Kaleb Bryson added seven — four in the fourth quarter — for the Eagles.
Brown said that Arlington made some adjustments at halftime, opting for more patience. He wanted the Eagles to find more open shots against Stanwood’s zone defense.
“We got a lot more patient,” Brown said. “We started waiting for the shots to come. Then the kids hit shots.”
Each team was supported by a large fan contingent, making for a loud, exciting atmosphere in the Arlington gym.
“It’s like going into a different world,” Smoke said. “That was the most exciting game I’ve ever played in. What an experience.”
“That was so big. Our crowd was great,” Dawn added. “They fed us. They gave us the energy to come back and keep going.”
When the game was over, the players weren’t the only ones who were tired.
“I’m exhausted,” Brown said.
There was some confusion with 6:23 remaining in the game, when Jones was fouled while shooting. The Stanwood player who fouled him said something, the referee heard him, and whistled a technical foul.
Dawn went to shoot the technical free throws, but the Stanwood coaches, players and fans hollered that Jones should shoot first. The referees conferred, then let Dawn shoot. He made two shots, that later didn’t count after the referees conferred for about five minutes, then sent Jones back to the line.
When all was said and done, Jones made one free throw, Dawn made two (again) and Bryson added two on a layin after the Eagles were awarded possession. That five-point Arlington swing cut Stanwood’s lead to 41-36.
Count Brown among those confused by what happened.
“I honestly don’t know (what happened),” Brown said. “I still don’t entirely know what went on.”
Brown called the play “pretty big” and said it was definitely helped contribute to the Eagles’ run.
Roberson finished with 12 points and four rebounds to lead Stanwood (2-2). The Spartans’ Drew Sears had 10 rebounds — and five points — before collecting his fifth foul with 33 seconds to go. Mason Garcea added nine points — six of which came in the fourth quarter.
“I think (Stanwood head coach) Zach (Ward) is one of the best coaches in the state,” Brown said. “We have nothing but respect for (the Spartans). They are really good. … Their defense is probably the toughest we’ll play.”
Smoke was thrilled to get the victory over Arlington’s rival, but said it was just that — one win.
“It’s a big win, but it’s just one game,” Smoke said. “We’ve got a lot more.”
At Arlington High School
Stanwood—Mason Garcea 9, Josh Thayer 3, Cannen Roberson 12, Drew Stang 2, Ian Zipp 8, Brady Garcea 6, Kurtis Hughasen 4, Drew Sears 5. Arlington—Kaleb Bryson 7, Terry Dawn 19, Gavin Smoke 13, Shawn Adams 0, Noah Jones 9, AJ Passalaqua 6, Bradey Brummel 0, Nate Lewis 0. 3-point goals—M. Garcea 1, Roberson 1, B. Garcea 2, Sears 1, Bryson 1, Dawn 1, Smoke 3, Passalaqua 2. Records—Stanwood 2-2 overall. Arlington 4-0.