STANWOOD — It wasn’t a league game, but the Stanwood-Arlington rivalry was in full force Tuesday night in the basketball version of the Stilly Cup. Both teams wanted a big early season win over a tough opponent.
Arlington and Stanwood both exchanged blows, making several big runs, but it was the Spartans who made the last — and the largest — run of the game, pulling away late to defeat Arlington 76-61 in a nonconference game at Stanwood High School.
“That was definitely fun. There were ups and downs,” Stanwood head coach Zach Ward said. “I think we controlled a lot of the game. We did a lot of things we wanted to. I’m proud of the guys how they answered. I knew (Arlington would) go on a run, they went on a couple of runs, but we answered it.”
After Arlington opened the second half with a 10-0 run to tie the score at 38, Stanwood answered with a 10-0 run of its own to pull away again. Another 10-0 run by the Spartans to start the fourth quarter proved too much for the Spartans’ rival to handle.
It was a happier ending for Stanwood than last season’s game against Arlington, where the Eagles were able to orchestrate a 54-49 come-from-behind victory at their home gym.
But the Eagles couldn’t quite overcome their rivals again.
“It’s weird because they’re a huge rival, but we don’t play them in league now,” Ward said. “And it’s only the third game of the season. I think it’s big just in terms of the rivalry. Honestly, as a coach I don’t put as much into it as the fans do. I look at it as I’ve got this project I’m working on and I want to get better.”
Interestingly, next season it will be a league game once again. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently released the reclassification numbers which show that Arlington will once again be a 3A North school.
Eagles head coach Nick Brown said that the game still had the feel of an important league game. He added he’s not overly excited about again having to face the Spartans twice a season.
“Not really. We’ll be fine. We’ll play whoever we get to play, but they’re really good,” Brown said. “… It’s the Stanwood-Arlington rivalry. There’s nothing on the line as far as league records, but there’s pride. And we’re going to be in their league next year so it’s going to get back to that. But this is just like a league game for us. Our kids were crying, they’re upset. And their kids were joyous. It’s just good basketball and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Drew Stang had a team-high 18 points and six rebounds for Stanwood. Josh Thayer scored 16 points and grabbed five steals and Ian Zipp added 17 points for the Spartans, who weathered 12 Arlington 3-pointers.
Thayer and Stang worked well together, helping the Spartans establish a strong perimeter game to go along with Stang in the post. Led by the two seniors, and junior post Skout Roberson, who had 11 points and nine rebounds, Stanwood scored a season-high 76 points.
“That’s your inside-outside game,” Ward said. “If you can get a guard and a post guy working together the way they did and then you get a guy like Skout chipping in and Ian getting his (points), that what makes these guys as good as they could be.”
Thayer, the Stanwood point guard, ran the Spartans’ offense and made his presence known on defense as well, with a pair of steals in the second quarter that helped jump start a Stanwood scoring spree.
“He’s just a little spark plug,” Ward said. “He’s a four-year varsity kid and I think you see it out there in how he carries himself. He’s not too high and he’s not too low. He hits a 3 you don’t see him raising his arms and celebrating and if he turns it over or fouls you don’t see the opposite where he’s hanging his head.”
Zipp, like Thayer, is also a four-year varsity player. Stang and starting guard Brady Garcea have three years of varsity experience. All that knowledge leads to an understanding of the Stanwood offense and a team that many have picked to win the Wesco 3A North league and make a deep playoff run.
“There’s a lot of familiarity,” Ward said. “It’s game three and they already know a lot of stuff that we run. They’re not learning it, they’re improving it.”
Arlington also brings back a number of players from last year’s team that finished 5th at the 4A state tournament, including Noah Jones (10 rebounds and four points), Bradey Brummel (nine points and two steals) and Kaleb Bryson (12 points — all on 3-pointers).
However, it was a fresh face that propelled the Arlington offense Tuesday night, with sophomore Donavan Sellgren coming off the bench to score a game-high 21 points.
“We’re excited about Donavan. He brings a lot to us,” Brown said. “He has an energy and he can shoot. He has a little flash to him and he’s confident. He’s a big-time player in a sophomore’s body.”
Jones found himself in foul trouble in the third quarter and his departure helped usher in Stanwood’s first 10-0 run of the second half. It also hurt the Eagles defensively in their matchup with Stang.
“I think that we’re used to getting a lot more lay-ins and close shots. But they just weren’t there tonight,” Brown said. “Every time we’re in there Drew’s standing right there with his 6-foot-8 long body and we just didn’t get the looks that we’ve been used to getting.”
The Arlington offense used 3-pointers to stay close, but with fouls on the Eagles piling up — and Stanwood converting at the free throw line — the rivalry game went to Stanwood this time around.
“It’s huge,” Brown said of the contest against Stanwood. “They stormed the court. Last year, we stormed the court. They’ve been waiting for us for a whole year and we knew it. We knew coming in we were going to have a target on our back and they came after us and they got us.
At Stanwood H.S.
Arlington 9 19 14 19 — 61
Stanwood 16 22 12 26 — 76
Arlington–Kaleb Bryson 12, Donavan Sellgren 21, Gavin Smoke 8, Shawn Adams 5, Noah Jones 4, Connor Bovard 0, Bradey Brummel 9, Nate Lewis 2. Stanwood–AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 17, Anthony Engelhart 4, Josh Thayer 16, Drew Wright 0, Carlton McDonald 0, Brady Garcea 10, Derek Ross 0, Isaac Olson 0, Drew Stang 18, Skout Roberson 11. 3-point goals–Bryson 4, Sellgren 4, Smoke 2, Adams 1, Brummel 1, Zipp 1, Thayer 3, Garcea 2. Records–Arlington 3-1 overall. Stanwood 2-0.