By Steve Powell
TACOMA – For most of the game Arlington freshman standout Jenna Villa was quiet.
But she scored 7 points in the final 1:43 to lead the Arlington girls basketball team to one of its biggest wins in school history Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
The Eagles placed third in the state 3A Hardwood Classic with a stunning, come-from-behind 61-57 victory over No. 1-seeded Eastside Catholic.
The exciting thing for Arlington fans and coach Joe Marsh is the team returns most of its star players next year.
While Villa stood out at the end, it took an entire team effort to get them in that position as Marsh played everyone despite the close contest, and all contributed and gained state experience.
After the Crusaders scored on a putback shot to a 52-43 lead, Arlington rallied.
Josie Stupey and senior Sierra Scheppele each hit 3’s, Makenzie Gage scored after grabbing an offensive rebound then passed to Stupey off the fastbreak to cut the lead to 54-53.
Villa hit two free throws and a 3 as Arlington went ahead 58-56 with 40 seconds left.
After a Crusader made a free throw, Marsh called a timeout. The strategy worked as she missed the second foul shot. Stupey hit a free throw and Villa two more for the final score.
While others stood out at the end, the 3-point shooting of Hailey Hiatt and all-around play of Keirra Marsh kept them in the game.
After falling behind 8-3 in the first period, Hiatt hit two 3’s, and Marsh scored off a drive and fastbreak. After Hiatt blocked a shot, Gage came up with it and assisted on the fastbreak to Marsh to give Arlington a 15-13 lead. In the second quarter, Allison DeBerry, the only other senior, hit a wide open Hannah Rork inside for two as the Eagles led 22-20. But then the Crusaders went on an 11-1 run to take its biggest lead of the half at 31-23.
Gage scored twice inside and Hiatt hit a jumper to cut the margin to 33-30 at halftime.
Both teams started the second half cold until Gage assisted on a bucket by Hiatt, who then hit a 3 as the Eagles took back the lead.
Hiatt made three free throws then stole the ball and assisted to Marsh on the fastbreak. Eastside Catholic went on a 5-0 run before Hiatt hit a 3 just before the end of the third quarter, which ended with the Crusaders in front 45-43, setting up the close ending.
Hiatt led the winners with 24 points on 8 of 15 shooting, 5 of 11 from 3-point land. Marsh added 11 with 6 rebounds. Gage had 9 with 5 rebound, while Villa had 8 points. Arlington made six more 3-pointers, a big difference in the game as it was outrebounded 43-30.
The Eagles held Crusader star Zaza Walton to 6 points. She had averaged more than 20 points in her first two games at state.
Shifty guard Malla Samuels led the losers with 19, and long-distance specialist Isabel Sullivan added 15, while Makena Daggett had 11 points and 13 boards.
Arlington ended the season 23-3, while Eastside Catholic went 26-3.
The Eagles lost to No. 9 Garfield Friday night 53-36 to drop into the consolation bracket.
Arlington just couldn’t hit its shots like it normally does. Stupey led the way with 9 points.
The Eagles were 12 of 43 for the game for 28 percent. They were only 4 of 22 from 3-point territory for 18%.
They also were outrebounded 45-29. Turnovers were an issue for both teams with Garfield having 22 and Arlington 21.
Garfield took a 10-4 lead, but Hiatt passed to Stupey for two, Stupey stole the ball and passed to Marsh for two more, and then Stupey hit a jumper to tie it at 10-10.
Garfield took a 14-10 lead after one then led 34-24 at halftime. The Eagles had a five-minute scoring drought and only tallied three in the entire third quarter and 12 in the second half.
Thursday night, Hiatt hit a fadeaway jumper with 6.1 seconds left to spark the Eagles to a 50-49 win over Shorecrest.
Coach Marsh drew up the play after the Eagles fell behind by one with 11.1 seconds left. Hiatt finished with a game-high 17 points, making 6 of 10 shots. Gage added 15, Villa 8 and Kiera Marsh 7.
The Scots led for much of the contest, opening the game on an 11-4 run on the way to a 15-9 first-quarter. Arlington closed the gap by halftime to 27-25. After both teams scored 11 in the third, the Eagles took the fourth quarter 14-11 for the narrow victory.
Arlington shot just 14 of 42 from the field for 33% and 4 of 18 from beyond the arc for 22%, but the Eagles were able get points at the foul line as they knocked down 18 of 23 free-throw attempts, or 78%. Arlington’s free-throw shooting helped spark a 10-0 second-quarter run that gave the Eagles their first lead of the game, knocking down 8 of 9 during that stretch.
Early in the year Arlington lost at Shorecrest 58-43, but later beat the Scots 50-34.
Editor’s note: Check us out Monday for more photos of the third-place game.