ARLINGTON — Griffin Gardoski was almost unstoppable at times, showcasing his versatility with pinpoint outside shooting and powerful drives to the basket.
Josh Gutierrez was equally dynamic, putting on a long-distance shooting clinic with a barrage of 3-pointers.
Gardoski scored 28 points and Gutierrez added 26 as the second-seeded Arlington boys basketball team punched its ticket to the state regionals with a 65-52 win over third-seeded Marysville Getchell in a Class 3A Northwest District semifinal Friday night at Arlington High School.
“With this team, you just don’t know who’s going to step up,” Eagles coach Nick Brown said. “We have a lot of weapons. … I know as an opposing coach of teams (like that) in the past, it’s really frustrating. It’s like, ‘Gosh, where do you even start?’”
With the victory, Arlington (16-5) secured its second consecutive state regional berth and its fifth in the past nine seasons. The Eagles face top-seeded Marysville Pilchuck in the district title game at 8 p.m. Saturday at Everett Community College.
“It’s huge,” Gutierrez said of clinching a trip to regionals. “There’s eight of us (seniors). It’s been our goal all year, and it’s just huge to make it.”
Gutierrez drained seven 3-pointers, shooting a scorching 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-4 senior sank his first triple just 15 seconds into the game and finished with three 3s in the opening period. He continued his long-range onslaught in the third quarter, hitting four 3s in the period.
“Coach always talks about (us getting) in a zone, and I felt it,” Gutierrez said. “The rim just felt huge.”
And when Gutierrez wasn’t drilling 3-pointers, Gardoski was busy bruising his way to interior baskets or sinking perimeter shots. The versatile 6-foot-3 senior scored 20 in the first half — including 13 in the second quarter — and finished with four 3s for the hot-shooting Eagles.
“He does that to us every practice,” Gutierrez said of his teammate. “He’s just a beast. He’s bigger and stronger than everyone, so that’s what he does. We’re used to it.
“I have to guard him almost every practice, and it’s tough,” he added with a laugh.
The combined 54 points from Gutierrez and Gardoski helped offset a rare off night for Arlington leading scorer Anthony Whitis, who struggled with foul trouble and managed just one point.
“Anthony’s been our bread and butter a little bit,” Brown said. “But that was so cool tonight, because (even though) Anthony didn’t play as well as he has been, Josh and Griffin obviously stepped up huge.”
Marysville Getchell sophomore standout Malakhi Knight scored 20 points and fellow sophomore Josiah Koellmer added 19 for the Chargers, including four 3-pointers.
Marysville Getchell, which earned the first postseason win in the eight-year history of its program Wednesday night, was playing for its first-ever state regional berth. The Chargers (11-10) have another chance to punch their ticket in a winner-to-regionals, loser-out game against ninth-seeded Shorecrest at 4 p.m. Saturday at Everett CC.
“(Marysville Getchell) did a really good job and made it very hard on us,” Brown said. “But (our) players made plays.”
Arlington scored the game’s first eight points and led for the entire first half, with Gardoski and Gutierrez combining for all but three of the Eagles’ first-half scoring. But with the sophomore duo of Knight and Koellmer, the Chargers kept pace and trailed just 32-31 at halftime.
Knight tied the game on a pull-up 3-pointer with three minutes to play in the third quarter, but Gutierrez responded with a pair of triples to give Arlington a 49-43 lead entering the final period.
Then after Knight converted a three-point play to trim the deficit to 57-52 with 2:25 to play, Gardoski made a pair of baskets to put the game out of reach and continue the Eagles’ mastery of Marysville Getchell. Arlington has won all 11 matchups against the Chargers since Marysville Getchell’s program began in 2011.
The Eagles will play their third tournament game in as many nights when they face Wesco 3A/2A champion Marysville Pilchuck in Saturday’s district championship. It will be the first district title-game appearance since 2014 for Arlington, which fell to the Tomahawks 60-52 last month.
“I know that these guys definitely want to go tomorrow and make a statement,” Brown said of his team. “… We’re going to give it our best shot and see what happens.”