Arlington’s Leyton Martin (right) brings the ball up court against Auburn’s Tyrell Nichols during a 3A state playoff game on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at the Tacoma Dome. (Nick Patterson / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin (right) brings the ball up court against Auburn’s Tyrell Nichols during a 3A state playoff game on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at the Tacoma Dome. (Nick Patterson / The Herald)

Arlington boys’ upset bid falls short in loss to Auburn

The Eagles carry the lead into the final quarter against the defending 3A state champs, but lose 52-41 to end their season.

TACOMA — The Arlington High School boys basketball team gave the defending state champions all they could handle. However, experience won out in the end.

The Auburn Trojans turned up the heat in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles fell short in their upset bid as they fell 52-41 in the round of 12 of the Class 3A state tournament Wednesday night at the Tacoma Dome.

Arlington used its stingy man-to-man defense to stay right with Auburn, and the Eagles were eight minutes away from a major upset as they led 34-29 heading into the fourth quarter.

However, the Trojans increased the defensive intensity and improved their offensive execution in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Eagles 23-7 in the period. That included ending the game on a 12-0 run after Arlington took a 41-40 lead with about three minutes remaining.

”The difference (in the fourth quarter) was a little bit of experience,” Arlington coach Nick Brown said. “We have one returning starter and they’re the state champs. They turned the pressure up a little bit, we missed some shots and they made them.

“I can’t ask for anything more from my team,” Brown added. “That’s one of the best teams in the state, but you know what, we went toe to toe with them. I’m proud of my guys.”

Luvens Valcin was a physical menace throughout for fourth-seeded Auburn (20-6), as the muscular 6-foot-2 guard finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and several charges drawn. Tyrell Nichols added 15 points and 11 boards, and Jaylen Petty scored 12 for the Trojans, who advanced to face No. 3 Eastside Catholic in the quarterfinals at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.

David Zachman scored 17 points, including a pair of powerful dunks in the first half, and Leyton Martin had 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists for 12th-seeded Arlington, which finished its season 19-6.

It was all going to plan for the Eagles until Zachman was whistled for his fourth foul 34 seconds into the fourth quarter. He only went to the bench for about a minute, but during that stretch the Trojans pulled back within one.

The game remained tight, and the Eagles regained the lead at 41-40 when Jake Willis scored cutting to the basket on a feed from Ty Rusko.

But it all fell apart for Arlington from there. Auburn’s Semaj Brown answered with a jumper in which he hung in the air to restore the Trojans’ lead, then after a fruitless Eagles possession Nichols scored on a drive to make it 44-41.

Then with 1:13 remaining Martin fouled out on a charge. On the ensuing inbound play Lateibreon Chandler threw over the Arlington press for a Nichols layup to give Auburn command. Petty closed it out by converting six straight free throws.

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