STANWOOD — Arlington senior Jayla Russ is used to winning. As a freshman, her team won a league championship and went on to finish second at the 4A state tournament.
Russ, now a senior, and the Eagles won their fourth straight league championship on Wednesday with a 62-41 win over Stanwood.
“She was really excited — and she should be,” Arlington head coach Joe Marsh said.
Marsh is in his fifth season as the Arlington head coach and has now won four league championships and made it to the state tournament three times.
“It’s a great run,” Marsh said. “It’s a testament to these kids. They’ve had a great run. They’ve won a lot of games in four years. … We just continue to do what we do. It’s a great feeling and I’m really proud of this group and I’m proud of this program. It’s been amazing.”
Russ first made a name for herself with a major contribution to the Eagles’ playoff run to the state championship game when she was a freshman. Three years later she’s still showing up in the biggest games. She led all scorers with 17 points and her eight points in the final quarter helped put the Spartans away.
“My teammates were just passing me the ball and it was just great ball movement,” Russ said.
After four years, Marsh is used to seeing Russ step up.
“I feel like I’ve been coaching her forever,” Marsh said. “She has a way of stepping up in big games. You get kids at the end of their career and they start to see the end. With Jayla for me, it’s about effort. When Jayla puts forth that effort she always has great games.”
Trailing the Eagles by one game coming into the game, Stanwood still had a chance at the league championship with a win. That chance, coupled with the celebration of their two seniors for senior night, had the Spartans fired up early. They led 9-4 and held a 13-11 lead after the first quarter.
Then Arlington (8-0 league, 18-0 overall) showed why it hasn’t lost a game so far this season.
The Eagles went on a 19-5 run in the first six minutes of the second quarter to take a commanding 12-point lead and went on to lead 33-22 at halftime.
That lead only continued to grow in the third and fourth quarters.
“They beat us up on the boards,” Marsh said. “I think they had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, which is too much. That was really one of the things we wanted to take care of in the second half is to make sure we get the rebounds. I think in the second half we kind of flipped it around. We did a great job of getting rebounds at the offensive end. That was a key for us coming into the second and half — and just settling down and playing great defense and I think we did that.”
Lynnwood head coach Everett Edwards and Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill were both on hand for the game, no doubt taking one more look at two of the teams they might face in the upcoming district tournament.
“Everybody is getting ready,” Marsh said. “We know it’s going to be a battle with great teams. Our goal is to just be playing our best basketball going into that tournament because we know we’ve got a tough road.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
At Stanwood H.S.
Arlington 11 22 13 16 —62
Stanwood 13 9 12 7 —41
Arlington—Gracie Castaneda 11, Serafina Balderas 11, Sarah Shortt 6, Sevi Bielser 6, Peyton Brown 0, Oliva Larson 5, Emma Janousek 4, Jayla Russ 17, Tahlia Miears 2. Stanwood—Kayla Frazier 0, Kylie Wright 2, Anna DePew 1, Jillian Heichel 5, Haley Strowbridge 6, Kaitlin Larson 9, Ashley Bierer 10, Ashley Alter 8. Records—Arlington 8-0 league, 18-0 overall. Stanwood 6-2, 12-5.
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