TACOMA — The Arlington girls basketball program finished out their incredible season with an equally impressive second-place finish at the 2013 Hardwood Classic State Basketball Championships at the Tacoma Dome from Feb. 28 to March 2.
“First of all, this was just an incredible weekend,” said head coach Joe Marsh. “One of our goals all year was to get to state and we made it.”
Arlington played their first game against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 28, while hundreds of screaming Arlington fans cheered them on. The game was tied at 7 after the first quarter, but Arlington took a lead in the second, scoring eight points to Gonzaga Prep’s four. They went into halftime with a 15-11 lead and bumped that up to a 30-20 advantage after the third quarter. The crowd grew tense, though, in the fourth quarter as the Bullpups made a run scoring 20 points in the fourth to Arlington’s 13. The score was at 43-40 in the last 30 seconds of the game with a Gonzaga Prep possession and needing only one 3-point goal from the Bullpups to tie and head into overtime. But the Eagles held them off and took the victory, while the fans let out a collective sigh of relief and Arlington moved on to the semifinal game.
“That first game we played really well,” said Marsh. “We executed our game plan perfectly. They made runs at the end but we held on for the win.”
They moved on to a semifinal game against fellow Wesco North team Lake Stevens, and pulled out a 66-64 victory in overtime.
“That second game was incredible. It was the best high school game I have ever seen or been a part of,” said Marsh. The Vikings started out with the lead in the first quarter, scoring 16 points to the Eagles’ nine. Arlington kept pace in the second quarter, scoring 14 points to the Vikings’ 15, but Lake Stevens still had a sizeable 31-23 lead going into halftime. In the third quarter, Arlington scored 20 points while allowing the Vikings to hit for 17, bringing the score to 48-43. In the fourth quarter, Arlington took back the lead, scoring 13 points and keeping the game at 56-53, until Viking senior Brittney Pahukoa scored a last-minute 3-point goal to send the game into overtime.
Arlington senior Lindsay Brown scored six points in overtime, and another four free throws gave Arlington the win.
“When a team hits a shot to put it into overtime, they often lose momentum,” said Marsh. “The emotion of that night was a whirlwind. It was crazy.”
Freshman Jayla Russ scored 23 points during the game, while Brown scored 14, with 12 rebounds. Senior Krista Showalter scored 10 points, senior Taylor Graham scored eight, junior Lyndsay Leatherman scored six, senior Winter Brown scored three and sophomore Jessica Ludwig scored two.
The success of their game against Lake Stevens placed them in the championship game for the state title against Mead, a team ranked No. 1 in the state.
“Mead is a really great team and they proved it [that] night,” said Marsh.
Mead took an early lead and kept it, outscoring the Eagles 12-7 in the first quarter, 17-9 in the second and 17-13 in the third.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” said Marsh.
The Eagles won the fourth quarter 13-12, but Mead had built up such an advantage that the differential was too much for the Eagles to overcome and they took second place with the 58-42 loss.
Brown, Leatherman and Showalter scored seven points each, while Graham scored 12. Ludwig scored four points, Russ scored three and Marissa Swegle scored the last two points of the game. Freshmen Gracie Castaneda, Serafina Balderas and Emma Janousek all got playing time in the state title game, and while senior Ronnie Ladines was unable to compete in the games due to a hand injury, her presence and support were never missing from the group.
“We were disappointed about the loss at the time,” said Marsh. “Once we got in the locker room I told them that the pain they were feeling is temporary. You’ll get over the loss and realize that there is nothing but positive things to say about our season.”
“Second place at state is incredible. It is such a great way to finish this year, especially for the seniors who played their last game in the state championships. It was great for them and such a great season. I’m so proud of them.”