EVERETT — After winning Arlington’s 15th straight game, Eagles coach Joe Marsh revealed what’s been at the heart of his team’s months-long win streak.
“We’ve been saying for a while, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” Marsh said.
In other words, Arlington’s team depth, pressure defense and well-rounded offense have been constant and have allowed the Eagles to pile up win after win.
On Tuesday, the formula lifted Arlington to a state tournament berth with 55-46 3A Northwest District Tournament semifinal win over Ferndale at Mariner High School.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Marsh said. “It’s a great win against a really tough team. We knew it was going to be a physical game. The kids knew what was on the line here, and I’m really proud of our kids for handling their business. They did what they needed to (do to) get the win, and now (we) just punched our ticket.”
The win clinches Arlington (20-2) its second consecutive state berth and its sixth in the past eight seasons.
Before the state regional round begins next weekend, the Eagles will play Shorecrest in a district title game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Everett Community College.
Many Eagles contributed to win over Ferndale.
Sophomore guard Keira Marsh scored a team-high 14 points, Josie Stupey added 12, Hailey Hiatt recorded nine with eight rebounds and 5-foot-2 senior guard Allison DeBerry scored 11 points and gave Arlington critical minutes off the bench.
DeBerry hit timely shots throughout and provided a spark on defense.
Her biggest shot came on a third-quarter buzzer-beater that gave the Eagles a boost heading into the fourth.
“The second half of the season, she’s been outstanding,” said Marsh of DeBerry. “She’s just a big weapon off the bench. She’s been excellent for us. She comes in and plays tough defense. She’s the smallest kid on the floor, but she’s in there battling for rebounds and hitting shots.”
DeBerry wasn’t the only Eagle fighting for possession.
Every other minute, an Arlington player was seemingly diving for a loose ball or fighting for jump balls with Ferndale.
Arlington’s defensive energy created several Ferndale turnovers and helped the Eagles build an early 11-4 lead.
Arlington took a 15-9 advantage, but the Golden Eagles ventured on a 9-1 scoring run to take a 18-16 lead with 5:55 to play in the second quarter.
Arlington responded with a run of its own.
Two baskets from Hiatt, a key 3 from DeBerry and points from Stupey and Makenzie Gage contributed to an Eagles’ 10-0 run that put Arlington in front 26-18 at halftime.
The Eagles quickly extended their lead to 31-19 early in the third, but the Golden Eagles rallied back once more, scoring six unanswered points.
DeBerry’s buzzer-beating triple gave the Eagles a 38-30 lead heading into the fourth.
Ferndale, which was led by Josie Cline’s 14 points, trimmed its deficit to 44-40 with 5:15 to go, but the Eagles played poised down the stretch.
Stupey made back-to-back shots to extend Arlington’s lead to 48-42 with 1:40 to play, and Marsh made a layup with 1:10 left, putting the Eagles in front 50-43.
Another basket by Marsh with 40 seconds to play sealed the game, sending Arlington to state.
“We battled,” Marsh said. “Kids are diving on the ground for the loose balls. We wanted to win tonight. I’m really proud of their effort. That’s really is what it was.”