SNOHOMISH — Highlighted by its fast-paced attack and long-distance shooting barrages, the Arlington High School girls basketball team has lit up the scoreboard all season.
The massive point totals, however, have somewhat overshadowed the Eagles’ success on the other side of the ball.
With baskets at a premium for much of Thursday night, Arlington leaned on its swarming defensive pressure to win its 12th straight game.
And of course, another 3-point flurry certainly didn’t hurt.
The visiting Eagles shut down Snohomish and drained five third-quarter 3-pointers to earn a 46-35 league victory and remain in contention for the Wesco 3A/2A crown.
“Snohomish is always gonna play tough defense, so we knew we were gonna have to grind one out tonight,” Arlington coach Joe Marsh said. “… We’re not always gonna be able to score 75 points. And this time of year, things tighten up, so it’s actually a really good game for us to play that way.”
Arlington (17-2, 12-1 Wesco 3A/2A) entered the night averaging a league-high 68.1 points per game in conference play. But against Snohomish’s perennially tough defense, the Eagles went cold offensively for several long stretches and managed just 18 first-half points.
Yet as it was being held to its second-lowest point total of the season, Arlington clamped down defensively and kept the Panthers (9-10, 9-4) out of sync for most of the night. The Eagles’ high-pressure defense forced 21 turnovers and held Snohomish to its third-lowest point total.
“I know we’ve been scoring a lot of points, (but) we’re about the defense,” Marsh said. “That’s our thing. … Right from the opening buzzer, kids were really working hard and talking with each other and playing great defense. And we needed to do that tonight. I was really proud of them.”
With the victory, Arlington kept pressure on Shorecrest (16-1, 10-1) in the Wesco 3A/2A title race. Both teams are tied atop the league standings in the loss column, but the Scots hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of their 58-43 win over the Eagles on Dec. 20. Arlington has one conference game remaining and Shorecrest has three.
The win also gave the Eagles redemption from last year’s loss to Snohomish in the Class 3A Northwest District title game.
“It’s always good to beat any team, but Snohomish especially, because they got us in the district championship last year and that one really hurt,” Arlington sophomore Keira Marsh said. “So it’s really nice to get this one back.”
It was far from Arlington’s most dynamic offensive performance. But once again, the Eagles showcased their 3-point shooting prowess.
With a wealth of capable outside shooters, Arlington has attempted more 3s than 2s this season. And the Eagles were firing away again Thursday night, with six different players combining for the team’s eight made 3-pointers.
“(They have) four good 3-point shooters (on the floor) at all times,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said. “And that’s just a lot of space to cover. It gives up driving lanes and then drive-and-kicks. … That’s tough to defend. And they’re not just shooters. They can drive, they can finish. They do a lot of things well offensively, for sure.”
Arlington even drained a pair of buzzer-beating 3s at the end of the first and third quarters, the latter of which capped a pivotal 21-point period for the Eagles.
“Those are the ones that really get everybody fired up,” Joe Marsh said.
After a slow start for Arlington, Hailey Hiatt swished a deep 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and 6-foot-1 freshman Jenna Villa sank a trey early in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 15-5 lead.
But over the final seven minutes of the first half, Arlington didn’t make a single field goal. The Eagles led just 18-16 at the break.
Arlington found its stride in the third quarter, drilling five 3-pointers to gain separation. Allison DeBerry capped the period by receiving a pass, taking one dribble past a leaping defender and swishing a buzzer-beating trey to stretch the Eagles’ lead to 39-25.
Snohomish trimmed the margin to seven points in the fourth quarter. But Arlington senior Sierra Scheppele provided the dagger, hitting a 3-pointer to make it 43-33 with 2:06 to play.
“It’s a luxury,” Joe Marsh said of his array of 3-point weapons. “… You can’t really key on one or two of us, because if you do, we’ve got other kids who are gonna knock down shots.”
Marsh led the Eagles with 12 points and Hiatt added 11, including three 3-pointers.
Ella Gallatin scored a game-high 13 points for Snohomish, which dropped to fifth place in the tightly packed Wesco 3A/2A standings.
“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively, (but) we had 21 turnovers,” Roberts said. “When you’re doing that, you’re not giving yourself a chance to win a game against a good team.”