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ARLINGTON — Tuesday night’s Division IV boys basketball game between the visiting Long Trail Mountain Lions and the Arlington Eagles featured two drastically different game plans.

Long Trail – the top-seed in Division IV entering the matchup – wanted to push the pace and play up-tempo. An Arlington team just getting back to full strength looked to be methodical in its approach, with the goal of limiting the total number of possessions in the contest.

The advantage favored the 5-7 Eagles early, but it was LTS getting the last laugh with its 62-40 win. A switch in defensive strategy from LTS proved to be the key into hurrying Arlington up.

After playing its first possessions in man-to-man, Long Trail switched to an extended half court 3-2 zone, with an emphasis on trapping the ball handler. That pressure forced Arlington to pivot from its game plan, and Long Trail got back to its brand of basketball.

After winning the opening tip, Arlington chewed 58 seconds off the clock with Long Trail playing man-to-man. While they did not score on that possession, Arlington showed it was ready to stick to the plan and muddy the game with its unhurried offense.

Following a turnover that led to a Joe McCray fast break layup, the next two Arlington possessions each bled a minute off the clock, with the former ending in a McCray corner 3-pointer to put Arlington ahead 5-2.

“We like to run the ball,” said Long Trail coach Rob Leary. “They were trying to put us to sleep out there in those first few minutes.”

The game began to shift after an Arlington timeout midway through the opening quarter. The Mountain Lions switched to its 3-2 zone, which extended all the way to the half court line. The pressure halted Arlington’s ability to swing the ball around the perimeter and remain patient. Long Trail’s rare size for a Division IV school – they have a handful of 6-footers in the rotation – presented unique challenges for the Eagles Tuesday night.

“They’re just so lengthy up top, it’s hard to get around that,” said Arlington coach Eric Green.

A corner 3-pointer from JD Redding gave Long Trail its first lead, 7-5, with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter, and kickstarted a 13-0 run which extended into the second quarter. The Mountain flashed their depth, as four different players scored during the run that began with them trailing 5-4 and by the end had the visitors with a comfortable 17-5 advantage.

Arlington continued to fight, and scored a couple of crucial baskets in the final 90 seconds of the first half to trim its deficit back to single digits, 25-18.

Cooper Jennings found a soft spot in the LTS zone and converted a basket in the paint with 1:20 remaining, followed by a timely Cameron Clark jump shot with 27 seconds left in the second quarter.

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After a LTS make to start the third, Arlington rattled off five straight points to get within four points. Jennings answered a post score from LTS’ Ty Dickerson with a jumper, and then McCray connected on another 3-pointer from the top of the key a minute and a half into the third quarter to make the score 27-23 LTS.

That’s as close as Arlington would make it.

Dickerson began asserting his dominance down low. The Mountain Lions big man stands well over 6-feet tall and uses his big frame to his advantage, punishing defenders as he makes his way toward the basket.

Long Trail fed him in the post following McCray’s long ball, and Dickerson converted the chance. That started another crippling 13-3 LTS run, with 8 of those Mountain Lion points coming via Dickerson.

After a defensive stop, LTS went right back to its big on the following possession. The senior was fouled on a shot attempt, and hit both of his free throws to expand LTS’ lead to 31-24.

He scored two more baskets in the quarter and Arlington’s offense went cold. The result, a 40-26 lead for the Mountain Lions heading into the fourth quarter.

Long Trail’s lead never dipped below 14 in the final quarter, as they cruised to their league-leading 14th win of the season. Dickerson finished with a game-high 17. His brother, Jack, scored 12 for the Mountain Lions and Jacob Leary pitched in with 11.

Jennings led Arlington with 15, followed by McCray’s 14 point night, including four made 3-pointers.

Long Trail is on the heels of its best season in program history, reaching the Division IV semifinals for the first time. The majority of that team is back for another go at it this year, and Leary said they’re using the March 9 47-45 loss to White River Valley as motivation.

“We still got a pit in our stomach from last year,” Leary said.

LTS improves to 14-1 on the year while Arlington falls to 5-8. The teams face off again later this month in Dorset.

“We’ll throw a little more spaghetti at the wall the second time and see what sticks,” Green said. “All in all, I’m encouraged with the effort. There’s some stuff to build from.”

Michael Mawson can be reached on Twitter @Mawson_Sports or via email at

Sports Reporter

Michael Mawson is the sports editor for Vermont News & Media. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Hampshire in 2019. Michael was the sports editor of UNH’s student newspaper where he covered NCAA Division I athletics.


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