ARLINGTON — No one has been as hot as the Arlington Memorial High School boys basketball team has been the past two weeks. The Eagles continued their strong play on Tuesday night with a 42-38 win over Green Mountain for their fifth straight victory.
After losing to the Chieftains by 15 in their first loss of the season back in December, Arlington was able to get some much needed payback thanks to their defense and the play of their three stars, junior Jared Lacoste, senior Nathan Mattison and sophomore Keyshawn King.
King got the Eagles' offense going in the first quarter, scoring six points to get Arlington out to an early 9-8 lead.
"We talk about it all the time that Keyshawn's hustle gets our team going and it did so in a back-and-forth first quarter," said Arlington coach Chris Taft. "He got us some points on some nice jumpers and layups, which we needed in a low-scoring game."
In the second quarter, however, Green Mountain contained King and grabbed a 17-13 lead with under three minutes to go until halftime.
That's when the Eagles' second star of the game, Lacoste, started to make his presence felt, leading a 10-0 run.
After junior Lucas Stroffoleno blocked a Green Mountain player's shot on defense, Lacoste dribbled the ball down the court and swished a three from the top of the key to tie the game up at 17-17.
The huge three-pointer was just the start for Lacoste, who would score four straight points that included a jumper from the foul line at the buzzer to end the second quarter and give Arlington a 23-17 lead at the half.
"I just love to lead the team on offense and defense, as much as I can," Lacoste said. "We were able to get out on a couple fast breaks to end the second quarter and I was able to capitalize on it with a couple baskets."
In their first game against Green Mountain, Lacoste did not play due to illness and his absence was huge, Taft said.
"Not having Jared in that first meeting with Green Mountain was a huge issue for us," Taft said. "[I'm] not saying the outcome would have been different if he played that game, but not having him out there leading was big disadvantage for us in that game."
In the third quarter, the Eagles' third star of the night, Nathan Mattison, began to take over.
The senior scored four quick points to start the third quarter and would go on to score eight of his 10 points in the quarter to give Arlington a 33-25 lead.
"I knew I had to pick up my game in the second half for my team and I was able to do that," Mattison said. "I got into a good rhythm early on in the third quarter and was able to make my shots."
Mattison was not just a force offensively for the Eagles, but was on defense as well, blocking three shots in the second half. His fellow big man, Stroffoleno, had three blocks in the game as well.
Holding on to a 39-36 lead with 53 seconds to go in the game, Lacoste again stepped up big for the Eagles. With ice water in his veins, the junior knocked in three free throws from the line to help the Eagles seal their 11th victory of the season. "I like having the pressure on me to win the game," Lacoste said. "I don't have a problem going to the line to help the team win the game."
Lacoste scored seven of his game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter.
King also added a bucket in the fourth quarter to give him 10 points in the game, giving the Eagles three players in double figures on the night in the win.
"This was a huge win for us," Taft said. "To beat a good Division III team is a big accomplishment for us and this win will help us going forward."
With the win the Eagles improve to 11-3 on the season and are now a perfect 7-0 at home this season.
The best team in Division IV will be the Eagles' next matchup, when Arlington host Proctor this Friday night at 7 p.m.