Eagles' comeback falls short in semifinals
But time was not on their side.
Waging an uphill battle for most of Wednesday night's Division IV semifinal against No. 6 West Rutland, the seventh-seeded Eagles made it a one-shot game early in the fourth quarter before falling, 69-60, at the Barre Auditorium.
Dwyer led all scorers with 23 points, including six second-half 3-pointers, while Hawley (14 points) added four triples in the fourth quarter to keep the Eagles afloat as they tried to reach the championship game for the first time since 2003.
"Olden really turned it on. He didn't want his season to end and you can't blame him," Arlington coach Chris Taft said.
After scoring first, Arlington (14-9) trailed 23-5 at the end of the first quarter and never regained the lead.
"You've got to take your hats off to them, they outplayed us. We dug ourselves a pretty big hole," said Taft.
West Rutland used a day-old 1-3-1 match-up zone to throw a new wrinkle at an Arlington team that had won both of the team's regular-season showdowns.
"We switched up defenses on them. My assistant coach and I thought it was like a gimmick defense but it actually worked tonight," said West Rutland coach Don Dunchus Jr.
Dwyer started the final stanza by draining his fifth trey in a row, cutting the Horde's lead to 46-43, but it was the closest the Eagles came to drawing level.
West Rutland, led by 20 points and 12 rebounds from Jordan Pease, went 15-of-19 at the foul line in the fourth to hang on to the advantage. Chris Charbonneau added 17 as all five Horde starters scored in double figures.
But the Horde's hot start was tempered in the second quarter as the Eagles regained their form. Alex Trayah tallied eight of his 14 points in the period, driving Arlington as it cut the margin to seven, 32-25, by halftime.
"That was by far the best basketball we've played all season in that first quarter," Dunchus said. "Then we came back to earth in the second quarter."
The Golden Horde (16-7) return to the Aud on Saturday to clash with top-seeded Rochester (22-1) for the state crown.
West Rutland is the highest seed to reach the D-IV final since 1995, when it claimed its last championship as a 7-seed.
It was also the final game for Arlington's eight seniors, who became the first class to post three straight seasons with 10 or more wins since 2003.
"It's tough. It's a great senior class, it's tough to see them go," Taft said.
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