ARLINGTON >> At halftime, Long Trail's Liam Sheldon had 11 of his team's 15 points against Arlington on Monday night. In the locker room, Arlington coach Chris Taft talked about continuing their gameplan against the Mountain Lions junior.
"Liam does a lot for them and we were definitely aware of him," Taft said. "We tried to do some things to get the ball out of his hands. We wanted to make someone else beat us."
Sheldon was shutout in the second half as Arlington scored a 38-30 victory at the Eagles' Nest.
"The other kids made some shots too to keep it close, so it's not a one-man band, he's definitely a kid that can hurt you," Taft said.
Arlington held a precarious 26-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter and had a 34-27 advantage with two minutes to go. A Long Trail free throw and basket of an offensive rebound made it 34-30 with 1:45 left, but on the next possession, Arlington's Nathan Mattison got to the hoop and drew a foul, sending him to the line. He calmly made both from the charity stripe to extend the lead to 36-30 and moments later, got behind the Long Trail defense for an easy layup that ended up the final basket of the night.
"We had some timely buckets at the end and we have an edge when they extend their zone," Taft said. "We have quick guards to get to the hoop, plays that Jared or Austin (Hawley) or Darren (Golden) make into the lane."
"As soon as we saw their zone extend [to half court], Jared [and I] made eye contact for him to get the ball down low for layups to increase the lead in the fourth," said Mattison, who tied for the team-high with Brandon Gamble in points with eight, six in the last quarter. "It was an even matchup down [in the post]."
Taft was pleased with the Eagles performance at the foul line as they went 6-for-7. On the other hand, Long Trail was 8-of-14.
"That's huge in a 38-30 game," Taft said. "We buckled down and made our free throws."
In the first half, Keyshawn King gave Arlington a slight cushion with a pair of baskets, giving them a 13-7 lead after one quarter. King had six points and 10 rebounds on the night.
Sheldon kept the Mountain Lions in it in the second quarter with four more points, but that would be it for the junior.
"It shows good poise by our leaders that there's only one state we're worried about and that's a W," Taft said.
Arlington improves to 12-4 and remains third in Division IV with four regular season games left.
"We have West Rutland, Twin Valley, Black River and then Rochester. It's a tough schedule, we have to take each one at a time," Taft said.