ARLINGTON — The Eagles are one of the hottest teams in the state right now, and they showed why during the second quarter of Friday night’s Division IV quarterfinal basketball game against Southern Vermont League opponent Long Trail.
Entering the quarter knotted at nine, Arlington locked in on the defensive end. Sophomore guard Taylor Wilkins’ active hands were on full display, swiping away three steals that resulted in transition baskets on the other end Arlington’s defensive stops translated to quick baskets on the other end of the floor, and the Eagles separated from the Mountain Lions, leading 27-16 at the half.
The Eagles continued to pull away from LTS in the second half, winning 45-26 and punching their ticket to Barre Auditorium Monday night in the Division IV semifinals. The victory extends Arlington’s winning streak to 15 straight.
“I always tell [my players], let them make the mistake,” Arlington coach Mikayla Dambrackas said. “And then we’re running the floor. We’re a really fast team, and we use that energy to shut the door.”
Wilkins started the second quarter scoring with a 3-pointer from the left corner off an inbounds pass with 6:13 left to play in the first half, giving Arlington its first lead of the night, 12-9. They would not relinquish that lead over the closing 22-plus minutes.
Long Trail jumped out to a 5-0 by the midway point of the first quarter, with Olivia Cole-Bugay splashing in a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 5:24 mark for the game’s first points. The first 10 possessions of the contest were empty as a thunderous crowd and playoff jitters played a role before both teams were able to settle in.
The Mountain Lions held onto the first quarter lead until Aubrie Hawley banked-in a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go in the quarter, bringing the score to 9-9.
Wilkins scored 9 points in the second quarter alone, and Sidney Herrington added 8 in the quarter as Arlington started to play at a faster pace, forcing LTS to run with them. Both Arlington playmakers finished with a game-high 14 points.
Herrington could have had more, but LTS elected to deny her the basketball and had two defenders glued to her at all times, no matter where she was on the court, throughout the entirety of the second half.
Facing an 11 point deficit, the Mountain Lions dared anybody besides Herrington to beat them. The entire Eagles roster was up for the challenge.
Hawley, Wilkins, Diana Tafoya and Hanna Seeley all took advantage of the open looks thanks to the added attention to Herrington by making open jump shots, sealing away the victory for the Eagles.
“The girls adjusted to it really well,” Dambrackas said.
Long Trail was unable to find the bottom of the basket often in the second half. The rims were not kind to the Mountain Lions over the closing 16 minutes of play, scoring just nine points over that stretch. Molly Luikart scored a team-high 8 points for LTS, and Camilla Marcy pitched in with 6.
Arlington advances to face No. 1 seed West Rutland, who defeated Danville 79-22 Friday night. The Golden Horde (21-0) defeated Arlington 50-20 on Dec. 19.
Tip off for the Division IV semifinal is slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday at Barre Auditorium.