Eagles excited for opportunity to play in semifinals

ARLINGTON — The goal all season for the Arlington boys basketball team was to play at the Barre Auditorium come playoff time. That team goal will be lived tonight by the Eagles when they take on No. 2 seed Proctor in the semifinals of the Division IV tournament.

"It's a great feeling to be one of now three teams left in the run for a state championship," said Arlington boys basketball coach Chris Taft. "The team is very excited about the opportunity to play up at Barre. We're looking forward to playing in fun atmosphere against a good team in Proctor. Should be a good game."

The No. 3 seeded Eagles advanced to their first semifinal in four season when they clawed out a 52-45 victory over No. 6 seed South Royalton on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals.

Three-pointers and good shooting from the free-throw line have been pivotal to the Eagles' success in the playoffs so far.

Arlington has knocked down a combined 13 three-pointers in its two playoff games and saw great free-throw shooting by Jared Lacoste and Ben Fugener help them seal out its win over South Royalton.

Fugener went four-of-five from the free-throw line in the game, while Lacoste knocked in three clutch free-throws in the final minutes of the Eagles' quarterfinal contest. Arlington went 14-of-17 from the strike in its first round win over Black River.

Lacoste along with fellow senior teammates Alex Paustian and Darren Golden have made huge plays in the Eagles' playoff run.

Paustian struck for nine points in the first half against South Royalton to help the Eagles get out to a double digit lead. Golden scored 15 points in the win over Black River and made a game-changing play to helped Arlington keeps its lead over South Royalton in the final minutes of the quarterfinals game, getting a huge steal on defense and knocking in a layup to extend the Eagles' lead to four at the time.

"Our senior leadership has been great for us here in the postseason and throughout the season," Taft said. "We have a lot of kids who have a ton of varsity experience for us this year. That is a big plus for us going into a semifinals."

The focus now for Arlington will be coming out of tonight's game with a win to advance to the Division IV championship game.

To do that, Arlington will have to defeat its nemesis Proctor, a team that has been a thorn in the Eagles' side the past few seasons.

During the regular season, Proctor went 2-0 against Arlington.

Taft said that beating Proctor to get to the finals would be a great feeling, but at the end of the day, beating any team to get to the finals is great.

"Proctor is a good team and our two schools have quite a rivalry recently in a lot of different sports," Taft said. "That said, though, we're not focusing not that right now. We're focusing on trying to win this one game to make it to the finals. We know we're going have to play full 32 minutes to have a chance to do so."

Tip-off for tonight's game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Reach sports editor Steven Bassin at 802-447-7567 ext 112 or @SBassin_Banner


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