Eagles falter in Division IV semifinal

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BARRE — To the Arlington girls basketball team, Monday night's Division IV semifinal against Blue Mountain was just another road game.

Since early January, the Eagles have not played in the Nest due to damage to the gym, so every game since has been a game away from home.

But this time, it might have been a bit too much.

With a big hometown crowd behind it, No. 8 Blue Mountain — based in Newbury — pulled yet another upset, advancing past the No. 5 Eagles, 41-31, at the Barre Auditorium.

"It was a lot louder for them but our fans did a great job supporting us," said Arlington coach Larry Andrews. "No excuses, Blue Mountain played well and they hit their free throws. They took it right at us."

The game was close throughout, but Arlington only led once early in the second quarter.

Arlington trailed by nine as the fourth quarter began, 26-17, but scored the first five points of the quarter on a 3-pointer from Haley Mattison and a two by Jamie Keel.

Mattison led Arlington with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers.

They eventual cut the lead to three with some strong defense. Gracie Smith grabbed a steal at one end and scored on a layup at the other to make it 27-24 with 4:19 to go.

But every time Arlington made a run, the Bucks were up to the task, scoring the next five themselves, including a pair of baskets by sophomore Lauryn Alley, who led everyone in scoring with 24 points.

Both baskets for Alley were up and under Arlington defenders, who seem to struggle dealing with foul trouble.

Arlington was called for 19 fouls compared to Blue Mountain's seven. Arlington only attempted two foul shots, missing both, while the Bucks were 14-of-22 from the line.

The Eagles only trailed by two possessions in the final two minutes, but a pair of free throws from Annie Dennis made it an 8-point advantage.

Smith, who had all four of her points in the fourth, went coast-to-coast on a layup to make it 35-29, but Blue Mountain was good from the foul line in the final minutes, going 11-of-18 from the stripe to put the game away.

In her final game, Keel had five points, all in the fourth, while Erin Murphy had six, all in the first half to go along with a team-high 12 rebounds. She also racked up three blocks and a pair of steals. Katie Berger had four points and seven rebounds in her last game wearing the maroon and white.

"It was exciting to get to Barre after playing with this group of seniors for so many years," Keel said. "It was good to get up here [the Aud] in our senior year."

Arlington finishes up 13-10, while Blue Mountain will play the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Mount St. Joseph and West Rutland on Saturday afternoon.


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