MARYSVILLE — Wesco 3A play hasn’t exactly provided Marysville Pilchuck a gauntlet of white-knuckle, one-possession games. Weeks had passed since the Tomahawks, undefeated in league play, had received a true test.
All that changed Wednesday night with Arlington in town.
The Eagles, after what Arlington coach Nick Brown said was a “terrible” first half, rallied from double digits down to take a late third-quarter lead before Pilchuck pulled away in the final two minutes of the fourth to earn a 60-52 Wesco 3A win at Marysville Pilchuck High School.
“In all the confusion at the end (of the game), I gathered the boys and said, ‘You guys want to know my favorite part about that game?’” MP coach Bary Gould said. “I said it’s because Arlington came back, because now we can be battle tested. We don’t want to beat teams and not play very good. We want to be tested, because the goals that we have and the things we want to do (require) games like that.”
Arlington’s last lead came with 4:21 to play in the fourth, and the Eagles trimmed their deficit to 51-50 with 2:29 to play, but MP standout RaeQuan Battle drilled a critical 3-pointer with 2:10 to go, extending the lead to 54-50.
A layup by Arlington’s Anthony Whitis off a forced turnover cut Pilchuck’s lead to 54-52 with 55 seconds to go, but again Battle answered with a basket at the other end with 31 seconds remaining that put the game away for good.
Battle finished with a team-high 19 points, but the Tomahawks (14-3, 11-0 Wesco 3A) received contribution from nearly everyone who played. Luke Dobler added 13 points, as did Cameron Stordahl, who also had seven rebounds. Ethan Jackson gave the Tomahawks a major boost off the bench with 12 points, 10 of which came during the second quarter.
Whitis, who sparked Arlington’s comeback with two 3s within the first 35 seconds of the second half, finished with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds. Griffin Gardoski added 15 points for the Eagles (11-5, 7-3).
“I feel like we came out with a deer-in-the-headlights look,” Brown said. “We didn’t know how to attack; we we’re afraid of getting blocked. We talked about how bad we played and were only down by 10 (at half) and thought if we hit a couple shots and get a stop or two we are right back in it. Of course, Anthony hit the two shots, and we are right back in the ball game. At the end of the game I told them we grew up tonight, and we were ready to win the game.”
Marysville Pilchuck looked to be on its way to another Wesco rout early, building a 12-1 first-quarter lead. Battle and Stordahl were responsible for all of the Tomahawks’ 14 first-quarter points.
MP took a 28-18 lead into halftime, but the Eagles came charging back in large part to Whitis’ 11 third-quarter points. His 3 with 3:05 to play in the third gave Arlington its first lead of the game.
Battle didn’t have his usual gaudy offensive numbers through the game’s first three quarters, but the University of Washington commit scored 11 points in the fourth and came up with critical points when Pilchuck needed it most.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gould of what this season has been like. “My mentor coach, Mike Lowery, who I took over for here, we always talk and he’ll remind me, ‘enjoy it, enjoy it, because it’s always not going to be like that.’ When we get up in that locker room we are going to celebrate, and it’s going to be sweet, and then we are going to get after it in practice.”