Look In: Arlington Boys Basketball

As we arrive at the halfway point of this year’s high school basketball season, the shift into conference play begins. A team’s performance in the games prior to this transition serves as a sample of their caliber and can provide a glimpse of their potential outcome after the regular season. Being that a team’s conference record is the deciding factor in their playoff hopes, these games provide a fresh start for teams who had subpar performances in the beginning of the season. One of the teams looking for some life heading into their league schedule is the Arlington Eagles.

The Eagles kicked off their season against Mount Vernon just the way everyone expected them to. In a 76-51 win over the Bulldogs, Drew Bryson scored a career high 36 points in the first game of his junior season, giving Arlington the edge they needed to get off to an easy 1-0 start.

Arlington went on to lose their next five games, dropping close games in four point losses to both Snohomish and Shorewood, and falling by double digits to Cascade, Lynden, and Mountlake Terrace. While players like Donavan Sellgren and Brennon Wiersma help to provide additional offensive support for the Eagles, games where Drew Bryson fails to score in abundance have proven to be difficult nights for the Eagles. In the 64-34 loss to Lynden, Bryson was held scoreless.

After dropping five straight, a bounce back win came on a special night for coach Nick Brown at Sehome High School. At half time, the 1996 Sehome basketball team was honored. Having been on the coaching staff the year before this team went 30-0 and was ranked top 5 in the nation, Brown was honored along with the rest of the coaching staff. The game stayed competitive all the way to the end, with Drew Bryson converting on an emotional and-one, giving him his 28th point in the contest. Aaron Carlson kept Sehome’s comeback attempts at bay with two clutch threes from the wing, and Arlington grinded out a 63-60 win.

Still sitting at 2-5, Arlington entered the next game against Burlington-Edison hungry. Right away the Eagles had control of the game, running sets crisply and getting the ball into the hands of Bryson who finished with 29 points in the 68-43 win. Arlington took another win over winter break against Mariner, topping the Marauders 57-49. This game served as a breakout performance for senior post Brennon Wiersma who has struggled to score much this season. Wiersma finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, accompanied by a 17 point 9 assist performance from Donavan Sellgren. With a third straight win, Arlington seemed to be heating up at the perfect time with just one non-conference game left against Wesco 3A South powerhouse Edmonds-Woodway. Despite a 31 point game from Bryson, impressive offensive outputs from from Brady Edwards and David Woodard lifted Woodway over Arlington 88-65. In this loss, the Eagles only managed to have five people score.

Heading into their first conference game, the Eagles weren’t thinking about their 4-7 record. Their eyes were set on their cross-town rivals, the Marysville Pilchuck Tomahawks. Despite both teams having their struggles this season, being ridden with injuries, and having tough non-conference schedules, the open to Wesco 3A North conference play was as exciting as everyone had expected. On a night where Marysville’s Josh Bevan walked out to center court prior to the game to honor his father as a Coaches vs Cancer coach, emotions ran high. Bevan has changed his game drastically this year. No longer is he a three point specialist who only relies on his three ball to score points. With the injured Bryce Juneau still working back from a leg injury, Bevan has become a distributor who finds success and opportunities while driving to the rim. In the conference opener, freshman Raequan Battle connected on four three pointers, giving the Tomahawks an early edge. Bevans drive and kick play style causes the opponent’s defense to collapse into the paint, freeing up shooters like Battle. On Arlington’s side of the ball, the ability to shoot the three comes from every player on the floor. Drew Bryson has the skill to pull up from any area outside the arc, forcing defenders to play him tightly outside. His outside shooting gives him the opportunity to blow past defenders and finish at the rim often. Donavan Sellgren has evolved into a dangerous scoring threat after struggling to score points early on in the season. Along with his impressive increase in three point shots falling, Sellgren is also third in the state for assists per game (5.0). With weapons on both sides, the two rivals could easily raise their level of play throughout the remainder of the season.

As teams like Arlington and Marysville Pilchuck strive for improvement heading into the most pivotal stretch of the season, there are key players from both sides working to get back to the hardwood. For Marysville, the biggest story has been the absence of point guard Bryce Juneau. A true point guard who looks to distribute the ball, Juneau did a great job of finding taller post players last year in Michael Painter and Nate Heckendorf. Battling a leg injury suffered in the off season, Juneau has yet to make his senior season debut. A return from possibly the team’s best guard in terms of distributing the ball would mean a second scoring option and even better drive and kick execution. The Eagles are missing two impactful seniors in Tylor Morton and Tim Zachman. Morton, suffering from broken leg prior to the start of the season, has put in endless amounts of work to get back to the court for his senior season, recovering much quicker than planned. Originally, the best case scenario for the flashy point guard was to make a comeback late in the season if the Eagles were to play in late February. Due to Morton’s almost obsessive efforts to ready his leg for competitive play, his return could come as early as January 19th against Everett. Tim Zachman’s injury to his AC band in his left shoulder has taken away a key rebounder and perimeter threat for the Eagles. Arlington is looking for a speedy recovery from these two moving forward into their more competitive league games.

This season, turnovers and sloppy play have been a problem for the small Arlington squad. Coach Brown has been looking to break their practices back down to fundamentals in an effort to reach a more crisp and precise level of play. For the Eagles to find success in conference play, role players such as Aaron Carlson, Cameron Reece, and Sam Tregoning will need to provide some support to key players like Sellgren and Bryson.
While this Arlington team has struggled up until this point of the season, sporting a 4-7 record and having avoidable losses against both Snohomish and Shorewood, they have gone up against some of the best teams from the rest of Wesco already. Despite being a team with all the right weapons, Arlington has struggled to find their rhythm. With the crisp play and utilization of players like Bryson we’ve seen from Arlington in past years of success, this is a team that could get hot late and easily be a contender in Wesco North.