Assistant Sports Editor
ARLINGTON -- With high hopes to start the year, an up-and-down start left the senior-laden Arlington Memorial High School boys basketball team at .500, right in the middle of the Division IV pack, with 10 games to play.
Should the Eagles' preseason ambitions take shape this March, then perhaps Tuesday's 67-43 win at home against Green Mountain will be just the sort of second-half springboard they needed.
Nine players scored for Arlington (6-5), which picked up its second straight win after a three-game skid. It was the Eagles' second win against the Chieftains (2-10) this year.
"We needed to get back going," said Arlington senior Olden Dwyer. "We're looking at [making it] a good year, hopefully, and we just really knew it was starting to get deeper into the year and that we needed to get back on track."
A mismatch in the paint, Arlington's 6-foot-4 junior forward DJ Jennings finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Dwyer added 14, including four 3-pointers.
Jacob Cavacas powered the Chieftains with 13 points.
The Eagles close the season with seven of their final nine games on the road, including rematches with Twin Valley and Poultney -- already a pair of stinging losses on their record.
"We've had a pretty tough schedule, played some solid teams, and personally, I think we probably gave away a few games that we probably should've won," Taft said.
Jennings scored three of the Eagles' first four baskets of the game as they built up a 13-4 edge and led 18-13 after the opening quarter.
The hosts blew the game open in the second period with a 19-3 run that Troy Sweet punctuated with a turnaround jumper in the lane four seconds before the halftime whistle for a 37-16 lead.
"We tried to get after our kids defensively," Taft said. "It's still early as far as working on our zone, but our man-defense, we challenged the kids and when we play well it's really contagious."
Green Mountain trimmed the 21-point deficit to 14 with Forrest Lisle's banked 12-footer in the final minute of the third quarter.
"Nobody wants to really work hard when you're already up big. We tried to put a challenge out there to keep them under 40 tonight and that third quarter is probably why," Taft said.
But Alex Trayah swished a 3-pointer from the left corner at the death of the third quarter to spark a 13-0 run that dashed any concerns lingering from the shaky third period.
Jennings started the final stanza with three straight baskets in the paint, including a tip-in putback while trailing on a fastbreak. Dwyer finished the run with back-to-back trifectas.
"Last time it was a close game up until the fourth quarter and we know they're a team that, if they want to shoot the lights out, we could be in trouble," Dwyer said.
Austin Hawley added eight points for Arlington, while three others chipped in with six apiece.