Arlington’s Jenna Villa takes the ball up the court against Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington’s Jenna Villa takes the ball up the court against Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington girls hold off Everett to clinch 3A state berth

The Eagles withstand a furious rally by the Seagulls to win 59-51 and advance to the 3A District 1 title game.

MARYSVILLE — For three quarters Tuesday it looked the Arlington High School girls basketball teams was going to add another lopsided win over a Wesco opponent to its resume.

Then, Everett stormed back with a furious fourth-quarter run led by clutch buckets by senior Ella Sylvester and a re-energized defensive effort.

But the Eagles seemingly had an answer every time Everett made it close, including junior Jenna Villa knocking down all eight of her free-throw attempts in the final quarter, and Arlington clinched a state berth and a spot in the district title game once again.

Villa finished with a team-high 21 points and the top-seeded Eagles used their smothering defense to overcome an off shooting night and hold off fourth-seeded Everett 59-51 in a winner-to-state Class 3A District 1 Tournament semifinal clash at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“It’s dangerous when you let teams like that hang around and you don’t put them away, and that’s what we did,” Arlington coach Joe Marsh said. “The game got tight and we made some mistakes that let them get back in the game. I think fortunately our defense held us enough that we got stops and did what we needed to do.

“We made it a little more difficult on ourselves than it needed to be. If we make layups and free throws, it’s a whole different game, so hats off to Everett. They came and they battled, and we knew they would.”

Katie Snow’s putback early in the third quarter gave the Eagles (17-2) their largest lead of the night at 33-15, and Everett (11-7) didn’t seem to have any answers for Arlington’s full-court press when the Eagles took a timeout leading 38-21 with 3:22 left in the period.

The Seagulls started to show signs of life soon after.

Sophomore Mylie Wugumgeg hit a midrange jumper and quickly converted a steal into a layup. Her stepback 3-pointer from the top of the arc to cut Arlington’s lead to 43-30 just before the end of the third.

Sylvester scored the first seven points of fourth and pulled Everett within 43-37 with 5:53 left.

Everett’s Ella Sylvester hits a difficult hook shot against Arlington Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Everett’s Ella Sylvester hits a difficult hook shot against Arlington Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A technical foul on the Everett bench put Villa at the free-throw line. She calmly sank both attempts and got back to the line on the ensuing possession to push the Eagles’ lead to 49-39.

Sylvester hit a 3-pointer and later converted all three free throws after being fouled on a triple, but free throws by Villa and a bucket from senior Keira Marsh kept the Seagulls at bay.

Mae Washington found Lillian Thompson for a bucket that made it 56-51, and Everett got the ball back with a chance to make it a one-score game with just over 1 minute left. But Arlington’s Samara Morrow made sure that wouldn’t happen when she jumped a pass at midcourt and quickly dished off to Keira Marsh, who finished through contact and sealed up the victory for the Eagles.

“That’s a huge play right there,” Joe Marsh said of Morrow’s steal. “… She’s a great defender. Kids sometimes just gotta go with their instincts and lots of times they get you in the right spot, and that’s the way it worked out tonight.”

The Arlington girls begin to celebrate after fending off a late run by Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Arlington girls begin to celebrate after fending off a late run by Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Keira Marsh added 16 points and Snow had nine for Arlington. The Eagles clinched their third straight state berth and reached the district title game for the third straight time as well. They beat Shorecrest to earn the district crown in 2020.

Arlington will play rival Stanwood in the district title game 8 p.m. Saturday at Everett Community College.

Sylvester poured in 13 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, Alana Washington chipped in 10 points and Wugumgeg had nine to pace Everett. The Seagulls were making their first district semifinal appearance since 2013 and are in search of their first state berth since the same year.

Everett will face Meadowdale in a winner-to-state elimination game 4:15 p.m. Saturday at Everett Community College.

“Part of our problem is we just didn’t execute,” Everett coach Darrell McNeal said of his team’s first-half struggles. “We have to do a better job executing and we have to do a better job of being in the moment. This is a big game and we haven’t been here in some years, so this is good for us. It’s a good experience and a good opportunity, and we can grow and build on it. Most of it was just trying to get the girls to play through it.”

Arlington’s Keira Marsh saves a ball from going out of bounds against Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington’s Keira Marsh saves a ball from going out of bounds against Everett Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Keira Marsh led the Eagles with seven points in the first quarter as they raced out to an 18-8 lead while forcing 11 Everett turnovers that resulted in a number of transition buckets.

Arlington pushed its lead to 30-15 just before the half on a basket by Kierra Reese.

“This is actually really good for us to get tested like this and have a tight game. We haven’t had a tight game in a long time,” said Joe Marsh, whose team went undefeated in Wesco 3A/2A play while beating opponents by an average of 28.3 points per contest. “… You try and explain to kids that playoff atmosphere and what it’s like. Sometimes they have to see it and feel it for themselves, and I think that’s what happened tonight.”

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