EVERETT — There’s playing well, there’s being in the zone, and then there’s whatever Jenna Villa happened to be in the first quarter Saturday evening.
The Arlington High School girls basketball star went ballistic in the first quarter, and the Eagles held off several Stanwood charges as Arlington defeated the Spartans 63-57 Saturday evening at Everett Community College to claim their third straight Class 3A District 1 championship.
Both teams already qualified for the state tournament.
The Washington State University-bound Villa played a flawless first quarter, from coming up with the steal on Arlington’s first defensive possession, to beating the buzzer with a corner 3-pointer right as the quarter ended. In total Villa scored 18 of her 26 points in the first quarter, including four 3-pointers. She even assisted on the Eagles’ two other baskets in the quarter.
“I was just locked in,” Villa said. “I was just ready. I wanted it more than anything, I wanted to put it on them and step on them from the get go.”
Samara Morrow added 14 points, including eight in the fourth quarter as she served as the closer, and Katie Snow chipped in 10 for top-seeded Arlington (20-2).
Grace Walker pumped in 24 points, Chloe Santeford scored 11, and Vivienne Berrett had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead second-seeded Stanwood (19-4).
Saturday’s game was perhaps the most highly-anticipated game of district for either girls or boys, as it featured two teams that earned trophies at last year’s state tournament and harbor high hopes for this year’s tourney. But Villa and the Eagles threatened to turn it into a laugher early. Villa was everywhere on both ends of the court (two blocks and two steals) as Arlington raced to a 25-7 lead.
But Stanwood never went away. The Spartans recovered in the second quarter and closed within four before Arlington ended the half on an eight-point run to take a 37-25 lead into halftime. Stanwood closed the gap to five again in the third quarter, and in the fourth the Spartans got as close as three. However, Rachel Snow hit a crucial 3-pointer after picking up a loose ball, giving the Eagles a 56-49 lead, and Arlington was able to close it out from there.
Now the Eagles have their eyes set on loftier goals, such as an improvement on last year’s third-place finish at state.
“I think all of us are so pumped up for state, and we have so much potential that we haven’t gotten to yet,” Villa said. “We’re just so excited.”