ARLINGTON >> The No. 3 Arlington boys basketball team weren't exactly where they wanted to be at halftime of Wednesday night's Division IV playdown matchup against No. 14 Mid-Vermont Christian.
They had a lead, at 33-20, but Arlington was intent on extending it by clamping down on defense.
Arlington outscored MVC by 10 in the second half, cruising to a 60-37 victory at the Eagles' Nest.
"In the first half, we had four 3's and we got to the line a bit," said Arlington coach Chris Taft. "We got the shot we wanted, we were in the paint all night and we had a couple of bunnies [layups] that didn't go in. Some of that might be nerves, each game gets bigger and bigger [in the postseason]."
MVC hung with Arlington most of the first half, trailing only by five at 16-11 after the opening quarter. Arlington started to use its speed and transition game in the second, pulling away, thanks to a pair of buckets from Brandon Gamble and a pair of three-pointers from Jared Lacoste to give Arlington a 13-point lead at the break.
"We've been working on splitting gaps, not just shooting the ball. One play, Jared hit [Keyshawn King] right in the gut on one play on a nice pass," Taft said.
Lacoste led the way for Arlington with 14 points, while Nathan Mattison added 12. The team was balanced once again, with Gamble scoring eight, Hawley pitching in with eight and Keyshawn King adding six points and a team-high 17 rebounds.
Many of King's rebounds were offensive, allowing Arlington to get a handful of second chance points.
"He only had six points, but he does more than points," Taft said. "He's always scrambling on defense, and that's a big number [of rebounds]. For everyone, it's extra opportunities [to score]. He's huge for us."
In the third, MVC made a final charge to get back into the game, cutting the lead to single-digits late in the third quarter, but on the next trip down the floor, Mattison drilled a three-pointer from the wing to make the lead 12 with under a minute remaining in the period.
"We had to come out fast and put the foot down so they had no chance of coming back," Mattison said.
Arlington ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, only allowing three made field goals in the final eight minutes as Arlington improved to 10-1 at home this year.
"Hopefully we have the same energy or better on Saturday," Mattison said.
Arlington improves to 16-5 overall and will face No. 6 Danville in the quarterfinal on Saturday at 2 p.m. at home. The winner will have a berth in Barre at the Aud the following Wednesday.
"We have worked all year to get the second game at home," Taft said. "We like playing in our own building. It'll be a tough matchup."