Arlington’s Jackson Trotter makes a shot during the game against Mount Vernon during a Class 3A District 1 tournament semifinal game on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Jackson Trotter makes a shot during the game against Mount Vernon during a Class 3A District 1 tournament semifinal game on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Late 3-pointer sends scrappy Arlington to state, 3A district title game

Jake Willis hit the go-ahead bucket in the final minutes to lift the Eagles to a 59-56 win over Mount Vernon.

MARYSVILLE — The Arlington boys basketball team needed every extra possession it could muster in order to seal up its big win on Tuesday night.

The Eagles made sure they were in the vicinity when 50-50 balls came into play, and it proved to be one of the difference makers down the stretch as third-seeded Arlington pulled through with a 59-56 win over second-seeded Mount Vernon in a Class 3A District 1 tournament winner-to-state semifinal game at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“Those moments were very big,” Arlington head coach Nick Brown said of the Eagles willingness to hustle to loose balls. “We’ve been trying to get them to do that all year. It hasn’t been easy to get them to do it, so doing that was huge tonight.”

With the game hanging in the balance, senior wing Jacoby Falor hauled in an offensive rebound in heavy traffic after a missed 3-pointer with the contest knotted at 54-54 with 1:17 remaining.

The extra possession made all the difference, as junior Jake Willis swished a go-ahead corner trey coming out of a timeout to give Arlington (17-6) a 57-54 lead with under a minute to play.

“Those plays were huge,” Martin said. “They led to a bunch of extra buckets which won us the game tonight. On that last possession, that’s a 50-50 ball and we came down with it, called timeout and it worked out perfectly for us.”

After Mount Vernon responded on the next possession with a layin from Xavier Neyens to make it 57-56, the Bulldogs clamped down with a stop on the other end, calling a timeout with 42.1 seconds remaining.

With an opportunity to pull back in front, Mount Vernon turned the ball over as Arlington junior point guard Leyton Martin leaked out in transition for a layup to extend the lead to 59-56 with 7.8 seconds left.

Arlington’s Leyton Martin steals the ball during the game against Mount Vernon on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin steals the ball during the game against Mount Vernon on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Eagles then held suit on the defensive end as they stapled their third straight state berth and second consecutive trip to the district final against Wesco 3A/2A powerhouse Mountlake Terrace.

“This win means a lot to us because we lost to this team by 20 points earlier in the season,” Falor said. “This next stretch of games is just us wanting our revenge back, so we’re just playing hard right now.”

Martin crafted together a more-than-solid floor game for Arlington as he collected 18 points, 12 assists, three steals and five rebounds, sprinkling shovel passes to 6-foot-6 junior post Billy Kooy (14 points, six rebounds, three steals) and finding open shooters throughout the night.

Arlington’s Billy Kooy tries to maneuver around a player to get to the hoop during the game against Mount Vernon on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Billy Kooy tries to maneuver around a player to get to the hoop during the game against Mount Vernon on Tuesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

With their return ticket to state now punched, the Eagles will square off against Mountlake Terrace (21-1) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the same location.

“It’s great,” Martin said. “Our goal really wasn’t the district semis, it was to get back to where we want to be which is in that district ship.”

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