ARLINGTON — The Lady Eagles’ playoff run stopped on March 7, when they were topped by Inglemoor, 46-26, in a loser-out game in the WIAA 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament. Inglemoor went on to claim the fourth place spot from Skyview, on March 8.
Arlington didn’t have much trouble getting through the 4A District and Regional playoffs, but their effort to place at State was cut short at the Hardwood Classic in Tacoma.
Last season, the Eagles placed second in State, but their visit at the Tacoma Dome this season was bit of a disappointment.
It was the Eagles’ offense that didn’t show up during the State Tournament.
The Eagles earned a trip the Dome by defeating Todd Beamer, 35-33, on March 1 in the 4A Regionals.
On March. 6, Arlington was soundly defeated, 46-28, in the opening round of the State Tournament by Moses Lake. The loss sent them to the loser-out bracket.
“We just had a hard time scoring,” Arlington head coach Joe Marsh said about their first game. “It’s hard to compete against a good team when you can’t score.”
Scoring didn’t come easy in Arlington’s final game of the season, on March 7, against Inglemoor. The Eagles were nearly shut out in the first period, only scoring one point.
The Eagles lost sophomore forward Jayla Russ early in the game to an injury which didn’t help Arlington. “We lost Jayla and that was huge for us,” Marsh said. “She’s a big part of what we do.”
The situation improved in the second quarter for the Eagles, but didn’t get much better in the successive periods.
The main obstacle the Eagles faced was Inglemoor’s 6-foot-4 junior post Deja Strother. Strother always met the Eagles inside the paint to disrupt Arlington’s offense by using her size. She was also the top scorer for Inglemoor, hitting for 13 points.
On top of Strother’s presence, the Eagles just didn’t shoot well in either of their playoff games on March 6 and 7. “That’s really what it has been for the last two days,” Marsh said. “Our defense has been great, but we were unable to put the ball in the basket.”
There aren’t many players taller than Arlington’s center Lyndsay Leatherman, but Strother was. “That’s a tough match up for anyone in the state,” Marsh said. “Leatherman’s a big strong girl, and you’re not going to run into Deja too much.”
The lone senior scored four points for Arlington and pulled in 10 rebounds. “We just wanted her to work hard and help her as much as we could,” Marsh said.
Arlington sophomore guard Gracie Castaneda had an exceptionally good game. She scored 10 points and hit two 3-pointers in the game.
The Eagles’ defense was there as always, but they couldn’t convert on offense.
The first quarter was perhaps the most destructive for Arlington. Arlington allowed a 17-1 run in the opening period.
Russ hit her head hard with about 30 seconds left in the first quarter. She was out for the rest of the game.
Arlington rallied in the second half. The Eagles were able to make it a nine-point game at halftime.
Castaneda turned on at the right time when she hit two 3-pointers in the second period.
The signature Eagles defense only allowed Inglemoor to score seven points. Inglemoor was ahead 24-15 at halftime.
The Eagles’ much-needed effort in the second period didn’t carry over, however.
Inglemoor kept on top of scoring, and the Eagles only put together five points in the third period. Arlington was bested again by Inglemoor, 35-20 at the end on the third period.
Inglemoor outscored Arlington again in the final period.
Though the last two games for Arlington was less than stellar, the Eagles have a lot to hang their hats on in the season. Arlington was No. 1 in Wesco 4A North and finished with an overall record of 21-6.
Losing only one senior, Arlington has plenty to look forward to next season.
The experience the girls have accumulated at the Tacoma Dome, and the season as a whole, will benefit them next season.
“You can’t pay for that kind of experience,” Marsh said. “When we get back here again, those kids will be ready for it.”
Gonzaga Prep took first in the WIAA 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament, by defeating Mount Rainier, 53-51, on March 8.