Three weeks after going to overtime against Raymond Central, the Arlington Eagles blew by the Mustangs on Friday, 59-34.
The AHS boys basketball team led 11-7 through one period, but ratcheted up its play and pushed its home lead to 30-13 by halftime. It outscored the Mustangs during the third and fourth periods, too, improving to 7-11 overall with the 24-point Nebraska Capitol Conference Tournament consolation game victory.
“I feel like it was our defense,” sophomore Nick Smith said. “We were all talking and coming together.”
That unity led to early Raymond Central turnovers and an 8-0 advantage.
“When we got those steals on defense early, that kind of kept the energy up,” Smith noted. “And then we kept it through the whole game.”
Eagles coach Tyler Spitser agreed “consistent energy” played a large role in how the conference game played out.
“We've shown that we've got it in us, it just dips when things aren't going well,” he said. “But when you play with that energy, things just come a lot easier.”
It came easy Friday as Arlington built its 17-point halftime lead. A 10-0 run to start the second quarter provided the biggest boost. Tanner Pittman and Barrett Nielsen book-ended the streak with 3s, while a Smith alley-oop pass to Aiden Foreman and the passers' own bucket sustained it in between.
The Eagles' dismantling of the Mustangs continued into the third quarter. Colby Grefe scored 12 of his team-high 14 points during those 8 minutes, knocking down three 3-pointers in the process.
“I don't know,” Grefe said before trying to explain what led to the scoring explosion. “I think we started pushing the ball up the floor and I just found the open lanes and my teammates passed it to me.”
On at least one of the 3s, AHS ran a play specifically to get the sophomore wearing No. 10 an open look.
“I like that,” Grefe said. “I like the adrenaline, knowing I'm going to get the shot.”
The 3-point marksmen led the Eagles in scoring, but Smith, Foreman and Pittman weren't far behind with 11, 10 and nine points, respectively. Dustin Kirk had seven, too.
“That's perfect,” Spitser said. “You always want as many in double figures as you can get.”
Arlington next hosts Fort Calhoun tonight at about 7:30 p.m. The Eagles and Pioneers have yet to play this season.