Eagles return to finals

ARLINGTON - For the second time in three years, the Arlington girls basketball team will compete for the state title.

With their 59-49 semi-final win over West Rutland on Tuesday night, the No. 6 Eagles will now face defending state champion Proctor - the No. 1 seed - on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Aud in Barre.

If the last two meetings between the two teams are any indication, Saturday's match up could come right down to the wire.

"We know who they are. They know who we are," said Arlington coach Larry Andrews in an interview on Wednesday. "Ashley (Hoyt, assistant head coach) and I are going to put a game plan together this afternoon for our practice and hopefully we execute it like we did last night. The girls executed the game plan we had put together Sunday and Monday at practice pretty much to a T. I really tip my hat to them. They did a great job on the defensive end."

Proctor and Arlington have played three times throughout the regular season with the last two games not being decided until late in the fourth quarter.

In their second meeting on Feb. 18, the Eagles - who were riding a seven game winning streak at the time - were down 44-30 going into the fourth quarter and made a fierce comeback that came up just short as they lost the game 55-53. In their third meeting later that week on Senior Night, Arlington played the Phantoms tough again - getting to within seven points before losing the game 51-42.

For seniors Rayleen Sherman, Jennah Lacoste, and Becca Bushee Saturday will be the last time they will suit up for the Eagles and that fact alone is something Andrews said he believes has provided additional motivation for his team.

"[There's] definitely a sense of urgency for the seniors and I think the other girls practiced harder and they stepped their game up a little bit because they don't want it to be the last game for the seniors," he said. "Julia's doing it for her sister (Jennah Lacoste) and a lot of girls look up to Rayleen. Rayleen's been a two sport star there for four years and a lot of the girls look up to her."

When the Eagles take to the court on Saturday, Andrews said he expects the defense of squad to be a deciding factor.

"I think it's going to be a big factor. Proctor is deep. They're going to throw eight or nine girls at us," Andrews said. "It's going to be key as always because we account for a handful of points or more off of our defense, which leads to our offense."

One challenge that the Eagles will face on Saturday is trying to contain Proctor's Clarissa Elrick who put up 20 points in their second meeting and then dropped 19 points - 10 of which came in the 3rd quarter - on Arlington's home floor on Senior Night.

"We're going to try to definitely contain her. We'll probably put Rayleen (Sherman) on her," Andrews said. "I'm sure that's going to be our main concern is not letting her beat us."

Also of importance, Andrews said, will be minimizing their mistakes and protecting the basketball.

"[We have to make] every possession count," Andrews said. "We talk about that all the time. Every possession is precious."

Follow on Twitter @BrandonCanevari.


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