ARLINGTON — The Arlington girls needed every big bucket they could muster in order to fend off Lakeside and its dynamic duo on Saturday night.
Arlington had four players come through with double-digit scoring efforts as it outlasted the Lions of the Metro League 73-62, earning a bye in the opening round of the Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome next week. It was Arlington’s 15th straight win.
The No. 2-seed Eagles next play on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinal round against the winner of Meadowdale (No. 8) and Bonney Lake (No. 9) in a non-elimination game.
Junior point guard Samara Morrow provided a team-high 25 points for the Eagles (21-2), and sophomore Kierra Reese managed a season-high 22 points with four 3-pointers.
Lakeside 6-foot-1 senior and Metro League MVP, Claire O’Connor, along with junior guard Mia Broom were both major thorns in Arlington’s side throughout.
O’Connor collected 24 points, nine rebounds and two steals while going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, and Broom hit five 3s en route to a game-high 27 points, adding four boards.
“What a great game,” longtime Eagles coach Joe Marsh said. “That’s two great teams going at it in a state playoff game, and it felt like that. Great players hitting big shots. Hats off to Lakeside, it was a battle the whole way. … In the first half, we were not great defensively, gave up too many easy buckets. That’s what we talked about at halftime, we knew if we could buckle down and get some stops then we could win this thing.”
The seventh-seeded Lions (17-4) held Arlington forward Jenna Villa, who is a two-time Wesco 3A MVP, relatively in check. In the first half, she was contained to just five of her 14 points. However, senior Maddy Fischer also helped Arlington fill the void, scoring 12 points, including a half-court buzzer-beating trey to stretch the Eagles lead going into the fourth quarter.
“I think the idea was that if you can stop Jenna then you can stop Arlington,” Marsh said. “We’ve proven that wrong all year, people have tried every which way to stop her. We’ve had kids step up all year. … Jenna can’t do it by herself and she’s not the (only) reason we’re a two seed (this year), it’s because of all these other kids on our team. We’ve just had kids step up in moments and that’s what it comes down to.”
After both groups got into their sets, shots kept falling from each direction.
After trailing 19-13 after one, Arlington stepped it up a notch. Morrow and Reese combined for 23 of the Eagle’s 25 second-quarter points as they went into halftime ahead 38-36, following a 3 from Reese at the buzzer.
The Eagles took control of the matchup in the third, going on an 11-2 spurt as Reese rained in a 3 to put Arlington up 49-38 with 4:25 remaining in the period. However, the Lions wouldn’t quite go away, going on an 8-3 run, pulling them back within six points with 2:48 left in the frame.
It was Fischer’s half-court bomb at the buzzer that brought the packed crowd at Arlington High School to its feet heading into the fourth as they seized momentum, leading 62-49.
Lakeside had one more burst left in the tank, going on a 13-6 run. O’Connor muscled in a put-back layin and Broom stapled in another triple to make it 68-62 3:10 left in the contest, triggering an Arlington timeout.
The Eagles would finish the job the rest of the way, as Reese scored in the paint following the break in action and the Lions were held scoreless over the last 3 minutes.
“Our goal all along is to win a state championship and that’s what we’re going down there for,” Marsh said. “That’s our focus, I think we have as good a shot as anybody. The way we’re playing right now, we’re playing great basketball and we’re sharing the ball so well. When we share the ball our offense is hard to stop. I like our chances, we feel like we can compete with anyone.”
This story has been modified to correct the name of Arlington girls basketball player Samara Morrow.
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