ARLINGTON — When they were younger, Ethan Martin and Elijah Johnson were teammates on a Seattle-based AAU team.
These days, they’re two of the top scorers in Wesco.
And on Tuesday night, the senior stars went back and forth in an epic overtime clash.
Martin poured in 37 points, draining six 3-pointers in a scintillating long-distance shooting display.
Johnson also netted 37 points, doing much of his damage while attacking the rim with his blazing speed and elite driving ability.
And when the dust finally settled — after all sorts of twists and turns and big-time shots — Martin and the Arlington boys basketball team outlasted Johnson and Shorecrest for an 83-80 overtime win in a thrilling early-season Wesco 3A/2A clash.
“It was pretty crazy,” Martin said.
Yes, crazy indeed.
The second half was a nonstop frenzy of action, with the teams combining for a whopping 91 points in those 16 minutes.
The final two minutes of regulation were particuarly dizzying — with five lead changes, two ties and a potential buzzer-beating layup by the Scots that fell off the rim.
Given a second life after that last-second Shorecrest miss, the Eagles (4-1, 2-0 Wesco 3A/2A) pulled away in the extra period and handed the talented Scots their first loss of the season.
It’s only mid-December, but this wild affair will surely go down as one of the games of the year in local high school hoops.
And at the center of it was the showdown between Martin and Johnson — who played together in the Seattle Future AAU program back in fifth, sixth and seven grade.
“Those guys have been going at each other forever, and so it was a fun battle,” Arlington coach Nick Brown said. “I remember their first game they played against each other (when) they were freshmen in a varsity game. It was fun to watch then, and I knew it was gonna be big when they played as seniors. And here we are.”
Martin singlehandedly kept the Eagles within striking distance early, scoring 14 of his team’s 20 first-half points. The 6-foot sharpshooter then added 23 points in the second half and overtime, including a pair of game-tying free throws in the closing seconds of regulation.
“He’s phenomenal,” Brown said. “He doesn’t pass the eyeball test, but my god, he just makes things happen. … And when he gets going, that gets everybody else going and we start having some fun.”
Arlington also got a major spark off the bench from Martin’s freshman brother. Leyton Martin scored all 14 of his points in the second half and overtime, including three 3-pointers.
“We always work out together,” Ethan Martin said. “We work so hard, and it’s just awesome to see him achieve. … We’re gonna get to talk about this 20 years from now and just cherish these moments.”
With 1:06 to play in regulation, Ethan Martin received a backdoor pass from Luke Brown and converted a three-point play to give the Eagles a 68-66 lead.
Shorecrest (4-1, 1-1) answered with a game-tying basket by Keaine Silimon. Then after an Arlington turnover, Johnson drew a foul on a drive to the rim and hit two free throws, giving the Scots a 70-68 edge with 14.4 seconds remaining.
With 5.5 seconds to play, Ethan Martin drew a foul near halfcourt and coolly sank a pair of free throws to even the score.
Following a timeout, Johnson took the ensuing inbound pass, burst upcourt in the closing seconds and dished a pass to a teammate at the rim. But his teammate’s potential game-winning layup was just a tad too strong, and the game went to overtime.
“We had the ball bounce our way a few times, and it bounced their way a few times,” Brown said. “It was just one of those (games) where you knew it was gonna be down to the end (in) clutch time.”
Arlington immediately pounced on Shorecrest in the extra period. Ethan Martin hit two free throws, Leyton Martin converted a steal into a layup and Brown sank a corner 3-pointer to give Arlington a 77-71 lead with 2:35 to play.
With just under a minute to go, Johnson dribbled upcourt in transition and maneuvered his way to a basket that trimmed the margin to 77-75.
But the Martin brothers answered with a sequence that proved to be the dagger.
Ethan Martin cut for another backdoor pass from Brown and converted a tough reverse layup, making it a four-point game with 35 seconds to go.
Leyton Martin then stole the ensuing inbound pass, and Arlington salted away the game from the free-throw line.
It was a statement victory for the Eagles, who knocked off a Shorecrest team that many league coaches regarded as the favorite in the 16-team Wesco 3A/2A.
“We knew they’re a very good team,” Brown said. “They’re well-coached and (they’re) a senior-laden team. But we’ve got a little swag to us. … I think we turned some heads.”
The Martin brothers stole the show for Arlington, but junior post David Zachman also played a key role in the victory with 16 points. After playing sparingly during this past spring’s abbreviated season, the 6-foot-2 Zachman has developed into one of the Eagles’ top contributors this year.
“He’s made the jump from sophomore to junior (year),” Brown said. “He’s really impressing a lot of people.”
Arlington struggled to find its offensive rhythm in the first half, as the Scots rattled off a 15-0 run in the opening quarter and led by as many as 12 points in the second period. Ethan Martin hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the half to pull the Eagles within 29-20 at the break.
“They played really well (in the first half) and we did not, and they forced us out of doing a lot of things we like to do,” Brown said. “We kind of got our bearings straight at halftime. We talked about a few things, kind of refocused, came out, got some stops right away and got some buckets. … And then from there, we got our rhythm going.”
Trent Nobach, fresh off a standout senior season as the Arlington football team’s quarterback, hit back-to-back 3s early in the third quarter to close the gap and help kickstart a 50-point second half for the Eagles.
“Those 3s were gigantic,” Brown said.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ethan Martin drained back-to-back 3s to give Arlington its first lead since the opening period. Zachman followed with three baskets in a one-minute span to stretch the Eagles’ advantage to 56-48.
But just when it seemed Arlington had seized control, Johnson and the Scots fought back to set up the wild finish. The 5-foot-10 point guard exploded for 14 points in the final five minutes of regulation — including a quick five-point spurt on a 3-pointer, steal and layup that gave Shorecrest a 64-63 lead with 2 minutes remaining.
Johnson was complemented by versatile 6-foot-5 junior forward Parker Baumann and 6-foot-5 senior post Newton Pepple. Baumann scored 14 points and Pepple added 13.
“We knew it was gonna be a battle, and if we could keep it close at the end, we’d have a chance,” Brown said. “And that’s what these guys did. And they hit shots when we needed them.”