Arlington’s Jenna Villa draws a foul on the shot against Lynnwood on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington’s Jenna Villa draws a foul on the shot against Lynnwood on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington girls down Lynnwood, earn 4th straight state berth

WSU-bound senior Jenna Villa has 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Eagles to a win and a spot in the district title game.

MARYSVILLE — Jenna Villa’s shot may not have been falling Tuesday night, but that didn’t prevent the Arlington High School girls basketball star from being a difference-maker.

Villa did a little bit of everything, leading the Eagles to a 61-42 victory over the Lynnwood Royals in the semifinals of the Class 3A District 1 tournament at Marysville Pilchuck High School. The victory sends Arlington to its fourth straight state tournament.

“It feels great getting back to state,” Villa said. “One thing we’re been focusing on this year is that we’re doing this for (Arlington coach Joe) Marsh. He feels the fire here, so we’re doing it for him.”

Villa, Arlington’s 6-foot-2 senior guard who’s heading to Washington State University, didn’t knock down shots from the perimeter in her usual fashion. But she compensated by scoring on backdoor cuts and getting to the free-throw line, finishing with a game-high 26 points. And when she wasn’t scoring she dominating the boards (13 rebounds) and drawing charges.

“She’s not a one-dimensional player,” Marsh said about Villa. “People watch her shoot and think that’s the only thing she does. But she finds other ways to score when her shot’s not going, she rebounded the basketball tonight, so she had another great game.”

Samara Morrow added 16 points and three steals and Rachel Snow pulled down 10 boards for top-seeded Arlington (19-2), which faces archrival Stanwood for the district title at 6 p.m. Saturday at Everett Community College.

Kayla Lorenz poured in 22 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead fourth-seeded Lynnwood (15-6), which gets another opportunity to qualify for its first state tournament since 2017 when it plays Everett at 5 p.m. Thursday at Everett CC.

”I thought we started well in the first quarter,” Lynnwood coach Eddie McFerrin said. “Then we lost a little bit of energy and they switched some things up on us. But they’re the No. 3 team in the state. And we’re a little height-challenged, so that hurt us a little bit.”

Arlington is known for its relentless pressure on defense, particularly with its full-court press. However, the Royals were able to beat the press early on and knock down open 3s, and Lynnwood was still hanging a round at halftime as Arlington’s lead was just 30-23.

However, Marsh called off the press in the second half, and Lynnwood was no longer able to get good looks in transition.

“They’re really fast, and I just felt we were giving them too many easy opportunities,” Marsh said. “So we just decided to take it off and slow it down a little bit and see what happened. It was effective for us, so I was really happy with that. Usually we press for 32 minutes, but sometimes you get a feeling.”

Meanwhile, Villa and company began finding success in transition themselves. Katie Snow’s layup on a feed from Morrow gave the Eagles their first double-digit lead at 41-31 late in the third quarter, and long 3s by Villa and Morrow early in the fourth ended any thoughts of a Royals comeback.

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