The Arlington boys basketball team went on a 13-0 first-period run and led throughout, besting Fort Calhoun 63-57 Thursday during a home Nebraska Capitol Conference consolation tilt.
“County rivalry game,” Eagles coach Tyler Spitser said. “There's no way you can't get up for this one.”
Both Washington County teams lost their league tournament openers Wednesday, but AHS improved to 9-7 a day later even with the Pioneers (7-9 overall) cutting its lead to as little as one during the fourth quarter.
“I was proud of our kids,” FCHS coach TJ O'Conner said. “They fought back.”
But Arlington closed out the game with five foul shot makes and two Nick Smith baskets over the final stretch. The 6-foot-1 junior finished with 12 points.
“We knew we just had to play good defense the whole game,” he said. “So when it got closer, we just knew we had to play better defense. That's basically it.”
Conversely, O'Conner believed his Pioneer team could have played better slowing the Eagles' attack.
“Defensively we didn't do a great job,” the coach said. “We were good in spurts defensively, but we just kind of gave up some stuff that hurt us a little bit, but give credit to them. They've done a good job over there. They've gotten so much better and they played better than we did.”
Arlington's progress showed most in its efforts to build a 19-9 lead.
After falling behind 6-4 on Brant Hilzendeger's putback, the Eagles scored 13 straight with Dustin Kirk notching nine of them. He finished with 22 points overall despite a busted nose, bloodied late in the game.
“Dustin's come a long ways,” Spitser said. “He's tough as nails.”
The junior guard's points — as well as Colby Grefe's 16 and Smith's 12 — were key as post player Aiden Foreman was held to just nine by Hilzendeger and company. The Pioneer helped hold AHS' leading scorer to just nine points, while Foreman played part in holding Fort Calhoun's top scorer — Hilzendeger — to just two.
“Between the two of them, I personally feel those are the two best post players in our conference,” Spister said. “I knew it would be a battle between them, and we told our kids that we were going to have to have other guys step up and knock some shots down.”
AHS' players did, and it was enough to hold off FCHS despite 18 points by the Pioneers' Zane Schwarz. Next, the Eagles and Calhoun are set for a rematch tonight.
“We'll have to get back to work,” Spitser said.
Smith expects another tight game between the Washington County squads.
“It'll be the same,” he said. “They're a good team. We're going to battle with them.”
Eagles open with road loss
Arlington outscored third-seeded Logan View/Scribner-Snyder 24-22 after halftime Wednesday, but it couldn't overcome its 12-point halftime deficit, falling 53-43 on the road.
The 10th-ranked team in Class C1 advanced to the NCC semifinals, while the Eagles fell to the consolation round after their seventh loss of the season.
Foreman led AHS with 21 points, including 12 on shots from beyond the arc, while Kirk notched 10 in defeat. Smith and Grefe added six points apiece, but it wasn't enough to top Conner Larson and the Raiders.
Larson finished with a game-high 23 points as the LVSS improved to 13-2. Riley Hoetfelker added 13.
Pioneers comeback comes up short
Behind the 3-point shooting of Michael Shirley and Grayson Bouwman, the Fort Calhoun Pioneers battled back from a 12-point halftime deficit Wednesday at second-seeded Douglas County West.
Despite the pair's five second-half 3s, though, the Falcons held off the Pioneers 54-52 to advance to the NCC semifinals. FCHS, meanwhile, fell to the consolation bracket despite a team-high 17 points by Hilzendeger, who added nine second-half points in his team's comeback effort.
In addition, the Pioneers' Carsen Schwarz, Shirley and Bouwman scored nine points apiece in defeat.
DC West avoided an upset by the NCC's No. 10 seed with Carson Roubicek leading the way. He scored 13 points as the Falcons improved to 11-3.
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