Arlington’s Samara Morrow looks to cut to the basket against Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington’s Samara Morrow looks to cut to the basket against Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington girls rally past rival Stanwood in key league showdown

Standout senior Jenna Villa pours in 29 points and the Eagles ride a third-quarter surge to victory.

ARLINGTON — Early on it looked as if the Arlington girls basketball team may have finally met its match in league play.

The Eagles, who hadn’t lost to a Wesco 3A/2A opponent since December of 2019, trailed by as many as 13 points midway through the second quarter of their key conference showdown with Stanwood.

But Arlington and standout senior guard Jenna Villa weren’t ready to relinquish their grip on first place in the league, especially to the rival the Spartans.

Villa carried the Eagles early, pouring in 19 of her game-high 29 points in the first half, and Arlington used a third-quarter surge to pull ahead of Stanwood and earn a 58-50 victory in a battle of Wesco 3A/2A heavyweights Wednesday night.

“This is huge to us,” Villa said. “This feels great.”

Villa, a Washington State University signee, provided nearly all of Arlington’s offense in the first half and kept her team in the game with a heroic effort. She netted all seven of the Eagles’ points in the first quarter, cutting the team’s deficit to 15-7 after a steal and layup in the final minute, and followed with 12 of her team’s 14 points in the second, including a pair of 3-pointers that sparked a 10-2 Arlington run heading into the break.

“She’s done it so many times … it’s almost like you get to a point where you can just count on it,” Arlington coach Joe Marsh said. “… When it’s time to get buckets, she gets them.”

Arlington’s Jenna Villa shoots a three early in the game against Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington’s Jenna Villa shoots a three early in the game against Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Eagles (14-2, 12-0 Wesco 3A/2A) rode the momentum of their half-ending run into the third quarter and gave the Spartans (14-2, 10-2) fits with their full-court press throughout the second half. Arlington forced six turnovers in the third quarter and five more in the fourth. The shots started falling from players other than Villa, as well.

Kierra Reese drained 3-pointer from the corner at the 4:42 mark of the third to put Arlington up 32-29 for its first lead since being up 3-2 early in the first. Villa, Katie Snow and Samara Morrow also connected on 3-pointers as the Eagles used an 18-8 third-quarter advantage to gain a 39-34 lead.

“We woke up at halftime apparently,” Marsh said. “That was a big deal. I’ve been saying all year that Jenna can’t score all the points. … We missed some easy ones in the first half, too. We got some good looks. They just didn’t go down. We did a much better job of shooting the ball in the second half.”

Arlington also slowed down University of Hawaii-bound Stanwood senior post Vivienne Berrett during its game-changing third quarter. Berrett was held scoreless in the period after posting eight points and eight boards in the first half.

“I was really happy with that,” Marsh said. “We wanted her to do everything in a crowd tonight and I just thought we did a good job pressuring them out when we needed to, but also making sure we stayed home and were glued to her underneath the basket. “

Ava Depew banked in a runner to cut the Arlington lead to 46-45 with 4:25 left in the fourth, but the Eagles quickly responded with back-to-back baskets from Snow and another Villa triple to push their lead to 53-46. Morrow and Villa combined to hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final minutes to seal the game.

The Arlington bench cheers on their team as they approach a victory over Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Arlington bench cheers on their team as they approach a victory over Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Villa connected on five 3-pointers, Morrow added 13 points — all in the second half — and Snow chipped in nine for Arlington, which won its 35th consecutive league game. The victory kept the Eagles in first place in Wesco 3A/2A and extended their lead over second-place Stanwood and Everett to two games. Arlington has now won 47 straight against Wesco 3A/2A opponents including the postseason and the shortened spring season in 2021.

Ellalee Wortham netted 15 points, Berrett had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Tatum Brager added 11 points for Stanwood.

Stanwood’s Tatum Brager shoots from the corner against Arlington on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Tatum Brager shoots from the corner against Arlington on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Spartans were firmly in control early and led for nearly all of the first half. Depew scored five points during an early 9-0 first-quarter run and Berrett’s putback late in the first pushed the Stanwood lead to 15-5.

Wortham capped her own 7-0 run with a 3-point play to give Stanwood its biggest lead at 34-21 with 3:12 left in the second quarter. But the first of Villa’s back-to-back 3s followed soon after, Arlington cut its deficit to 26-21 by halftime and the Eagles took control after break.

“That’s a big win,” Marsh said. “It’s a rivalry game, league championship implications there. We’ve got to take care of our business now. We always talk about controlling our destiny and not putting it in other people’s hands. We got ourselves to this spot tonight, we were in this game and we took care of our business. Now it’s in our hands. It’s up to us and I’m really happy about that.”

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