ARLINGTON — This wasn’t the first high-pressure defense the Arlington boys basketball team has seen this season. Just last week, the Eagles faced defending Class 4A state champion Federal Way and fared respectably against a squad known for defensive intensity.
But what Arlington saw Thursday night was unlike anything it had previously experienced.
Anacortes’ relentless defensive pressure forced 17 Arlington turnovers, and the Seahawks pulled away with an 18-4 third-quarter run to hand the Eagles a 79-53 non-league loss at Arlington High School.
“We have not seen pressure like this,” Arlington coach Nick Brown said. “We played Federal Way and we handled that pressure, I thought, just fine. (But Anacortes’) pressure tonight was better than Federal Way’s pressure, and that’s saying a lot.”
“They beat us,” Brown added. “We didn’t lose it. They just beat us. We were hanging in there for half the game, (but) their pressure just kind of got to us at the end.”
Arlington guard Drew Bryson entered the night averaging 25.3 points per game and having scored 28 points or more in four of the team’s six contests. But the senior standout struggled to find his typically pinpoint shooting touch and was limited to just seven points by Anacortes’ defense.
Anacortes employed a 2-2-1 zone press that — along with the Seahawks’ length — frustrated the Eagles (4-3) all night.
“The holes that are usually there against every other team were not there,” Brown said. “They trick you into doing things that you’re used to doing, and it doesn’t work. … That diagonal pass looks like it’s there, and we talked a lot about it not being there, but we kept throwing it. And so that’s on me as a coach. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure they understand that.”
When asked what his team can take away from the loss, Arlington senior guard Sam Tregoning said, “Take care of the ball. We really need to take care of the ball.”
Arlington raced to a 9-0 lead in the game’s opening two minutes, but Anacortes (5-1) fought back to take a 14-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Seahawks later closed the half on an 8-1 run to carry a 32-28 advantage into the break.
Anacortes then pulled away in the third quarter, rattling off an 18-4 run that pushed the margin to 50-34 with about three minutes left in the period. Arlington committed numerous turnovers during that span — including several back-to-back giveaways — that the Seahawks were able to convert into points on the other end.
Anacortes junior guard Trystan Lowry hit five 3-pointers and matched 6-foot-6 senior teammate Jesse Keltner with a game-high 19 points. Senior Eli Moore added 10 points for the Seahawks.
Arlington sophomore Dele Aribibola led the Eagles with 13 points, while Tregoning and sophomore Griffin Gardoski each chipped in nine points.
“Usually with this group, we’re able to recover,” Brown said. “And it was not for lack of effort. It was just that we didn’t do little things right and (Anacortes) took us out of our game. That’s credit to them. … They were a superior team than us tonight.”