ARLINGTON — For the past few seasons, the Arlington Memorial High School boys basketball team have had to deal with some growing pains.
This year, however, the Eagles have an experienced ball club and are ready to make an impact in Division IV this season.
"We have high expectations for our team this year," said Arlington coach Chris Taft, in his fourth season. "We have a lot of experience on our team this year and we feel this is our time to be one of the top teams in D-IV."
The Eagles are led by senior Austin Hawley. One of the team's two captains, Hawley will again be a big part of the Arlington offense this season.
"Austin is a very talented player who can really score," Taft said. "This year, we want him to be an all-around basketball player and from the hard work he has put in the offseason, I believe he will be that for us this season."
Arlington's other captain, Jared Lacoste, fills out the Eagles' front court with Hawley as the team's point guard.
Lacoste, a three-year varsity player, expects be a key player in the Eagles' defensive attack this season.
"Our defense is all about ball pressure and Jared is really good at playing tight man-to-man defense," Taft said. "He has a really high basketball IQ and is our best ball handler as well."
The Eagles' final returning starter is senior Nathan Mattison. The Eagles' big man has a chance to be a great player this year for Arlington, Taft said.
"Nathan has a lot of potential to be one of the best players in D-IV this year," Taft said. "He is very athletic, can shoot and can be a force on the boards. We feel he can have a huge year for us this season."
Other players to watch out for this year include sophomore Keyshawn King.
"He is very athletic and gives our team so much speed out there on the court," Taft said. "He is very raw, though, and needs gain more experience playing at the varsity level, but he has a big future ahead of him."
Freshman Jack Lane and senior Brandon Gamble will also be key contributors for the Eagles.
Another goal that Arlington has set out for themselves is being perfect at home this season.
"Most importantly this year, we want to protect the Nest and protect our home floor," Hawley said. "I don't want to lose at home and our team wants to give the hometown fans something to cheer about this season."
So far, Hawley has kept true to his word, scoring 20 points to lead the Eagles to a win in their home opener against Bellows Falls. Then he also came up huge in the Eagles' win on Saturday on the road against Rochester, scoring a team-high 15 points to help Arlington win its second game of the year.
"We said from the beginning of the year that we want to have a winning season and to be one of the top teams in D-IV," Hawley said. "Right now our offense is clicking really well and if we can continue to improve throughout the season, there is no doubt we can make those goals happen."
The Eagles will try for their third win of the season against Poultney this upcoming Saturday at 2:30 p.m.