SHORELINE — At the beginning of Wednesday’s 3A District 1 semifinal against Glacier Peak, the Arlington girls basketball team looked like anything but the No. 3 team in the state.
But there is a reason the Eagles haven’t lost this season.
Arlington bounced back from an early 14-2 deficit to earn a 52-45 come-from-behind win over the Grizzlies, earning berths in both the state regional round and this Saturday’s district championship game.
“That’s your nightmare as a coach, you’re going to come out in a game against a team that’s really motivated and really good and they had a great start,” Arlington head coach Joe Marsh said. “A lot of times in those games, great starts end up leading to wins. But again, I’ve talked about it all year long with this team — our maturity and our experience.”
The Eagles were able to rely on those things as they clawed their way back into the game. By the time the second quarter was over, the Eagles trailed just 28-24.
“It was just great the way we hung in there and didn’t panic,” Marsh said. “We just kept chipping away and chipping away and finally some shots started to go.”
Leading the way for the Eagles in their comeback was senior guard Sevi Bielser. Bielser scored 10 of her 15 points in the second quarter to help Arlington get back in the game and her other five points in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.
“She’s really stepped up of late,” Marsh said. “You watch her early. If she gets a clean look and it goes, if she hits one she might hit six. I tell her all the time, ‘if you get a look kid, let it go.’ She’s shooting with a lot of confidence now. I think she’s the best shooter in the league in my opinion. If she gets open looks we want her to let it fly and she did.”
Bielser finished the game with four 3-pointers.
“My teammates, I love them so much,” Bielser said. “We all work together so well and we know where to look for each other and our strengths and our weaknesses. We just get each other at our strengths.”
The Eagles’ comeback was aided by Glacier Peak junior Paisley Johnson struggling with foul trouble for much of the game. She picked up her third foul with 3:30 to play in the second quarter and was forced to spend the rest of the first half on the bench. She picked up her fourth foul on a charge with 3:29 to play in the third and didn’t return to the game until the fourth quarter.
“I thought that hurt us a lot,” Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill said. “And it hurt her in terms of getting a flow going. We had to get her out and then when we could get her in and she’s just starting to get in a flow and kind of do what she does and the next thing you know I’ve got to get her out again. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Arlington took its first lead of the game with 6:35 to play in the final quarter. Glacier Peak continued to battle and led 45-44 with 2:20 to play, but the Eagles closed out the game on an 8-0 run.
The Grizzlies will play a loser-out game on Friday against Edmonds-Woodway.
With junior guard Samantha Fatkin already out for the season, Johnson struggling with foul trouble and losing junior post Kayla Watkins late in the game to an ankle injury, Hill was proud of his team’s gutty effort.
“It was a great game, I thought, for both teams,” Hill said. “We just held with the No. 3 team in the state, so I’m really proud of my team right now.”
The Eagles’ victory sets up a district championship game on Saturday that features two of the top three teams in the state. Arlington is 22-0 and ranked third, while defending-state-champion Lynnwood is ranked No. 1 and is also 22-0.
“It’s another opportunity to play what I think is the best team in the state,” Marsh said. “Knowing that you’re getting through to the regional round, that prepares us as well as anything we can possibly come up with. If it is Lynnwood, we’re just really looking forward to the opportunity.”
At Shorecrest H.S.
Glacier Peak 16 12 8 9 —45
Arlington 6 18 11 17 —52
Glacier Peak—Paisley Johnson 12, Charlie Sevanants 4, Kayla Watkins 8, Natalie Rasmussen 13, Maya McFadden 0, Sierra Nash 0, Makayla Guerra 0, Nicole Jensen 1, Abbie Juozapaitis 7. Arlington—Gracie Castaneda 6, Serafina Balderas 6, Sarah Shortt 4, Sevi Bielser 15, Olivia Larson 0, Emma Janousek 6, Peyton Brown 3, Jayla Russ 10, Tahlia Miears 2. Records—Glacier Peak 16-6. Arlington 22-0.