Should the Eagles' preseason ambitions take shape this March, then perhaps Tuesday's 67-43 win at home against Green Mountain will be just the sort of second-half springboard they needed.
Nine players scored for Arlington (6-5), which picked up its second straight win after a three-game skid. It was the Eagles' second win against the Chieftains (2-10) this year.
"We needed to get back going," said Arlington senior Olden Dwyer. "We're looking at [making it] a good year, hopefully, and we just really knew it was starting to get deeper into the year and that we needed to get back on track."
A mismatch in the paint, Arlington's 6-foot-4 junior forward DJ Jennings finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Dwyer added 14, including four 3-pointers. Jacob Cavacas powered the Chieftains with 13 points. The Eagles close the season with seven of their final nine games on the road, including rematches with Twin Valley and Poultney - already a pair of stinging losses on their record.
"We've had a pretty tough schedule, played some solid teams, and personally, I think we probably gave away a few games that we probably should've won," Taft said.
Jennings scored three of the Eagles' first four baskets of the game as they built up a 13-4 edge and led 18-13 after the opening quarter.
The hosts blew the game open in the second period with a 19-3 run that Troy Sweet punctuated with a turnaround jumper in the lane four seconds before the halftime whistle for a 37-16 lead.
"We tried to get after our kids defensively," Taft said. "It's still early as far as working on our zone, but our man-defense, we challenged the kids and when we play well it's really contagious."
Green Mountain trimmed the 21-point deficit to 14 with Forrest Lisle's banked 12-footer in the final minute of the third quarter. But Alex Trayah swished a 3-pointer from the left corner at the death of the third quarter to spark a 13-0 run that dashed any concerns lingering from the shaky third period.
Jennings started the final stanza with three straight baskets in the paint, including a tip-in putback while trailing on a fastbreak. Dwyer finished the run with back-to-back trifectas.
"Last time it was a close game up until the fourth quarter and we know they're a team that, if they want to shoot the lights out, we could be in trouble," Dwyer said.