The shots taken by Arlington Tigers like Brogan Brewer, Ray Price, Boston Miller and Garrett Goldday seemed to fall throughout the night.
Meanwhile the Brighton Cardinals picked the worst time to struggle from the field. Brighton rarely found the bottom of the net Saturday night in the Region 7-3A Boys Tournament First Round contest.
The Tigers kept making timely shots and shut down the District 13-3A champion Cardinals to prevail and advance 58-39.
“I told my guys, ‘I want you to come in here with as much basketball as we’ve taught y’all to just on offense to relax and have fun and just play,” Arlington Head Coach Don Deaton said. “‘On defense, you belong to me.’ On offense if you’re going to mistake, so what. Just play together and make the extra pass. On defense, oh no, you’re mine. That’s where you don’t make mistakes. That was it.”
Arlington jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the Brighton Gymnasium after one quarter. Tiger Price had the hot hand drilling a three-pointer and making a steal leading to a bucket to make the score 9-2.
Brighton’s first field goal of the night came courtesy of Jordan Johnson. Johnson had all 5 points adding three foul shots.
“We shot the ball horribly in the first half,” Cardinals Head Coach Stan Gatlin said. “And uncharacteristic of us, we allowed our lack of shots to determine if we were going to play defense or not.
“So we didn’t make the slides we were supposed to make on our traps in the first half,” he continued. “We left guys open. Instead of recovering, we just stood there and watched, which led to open threes. And they got confidence and everybody open there started making threes.”
Arlington scored 14 points in the second quarter with buckets coming in the post from Goldday. The senior forward’s presence kept the Cardinal defense guessing, leading to more long-range shots for the Tigers.
When Brewer tossed off a three-pointer to beat the first half buzzer, Arlington entered the locker room ahead 31-13.
The Cardinals tried to rally in the third quarter behind senior Tae’lyr Gatlin. The University of Denver signee hit a pair of jump shots and nailed a trey to make the score 33-20.
Then Gatlin made a steal on an Arlington inbound pass. Gatlin fired a no-look pass to his senior teammate Zach Lewis for a layup to cut the deficit to 33-22.
That was the closest Brighton would get on the night. Brewer stepped up with a timely three-pointer to make the score 36-22 and snap the Cardinals’ momentum. The Tigers closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run to lead 40-24.
The Tigers outscored Brighton 18-15 to advance to the Region 7-3A Semifinals Tuesday night at Bolton High School.
“I hope it’s clicking at the right time,” Deaton said. “We’re in a tough district. It’s brutal – game after game. It’s so different every night. If you’re not healthy or don’t have good guards, you’re not going to win in our league.
“I like our chance,” he added. “You throw that ball up, we’re going to throw our hair back and just play. That’s all we’re going to do.”
For the Cardinals the 2017-18 season came to an end, including the careers of Lance West, Aaron Alston, Lewis and Gatlin.
Alston, Lewis and Gatlin played under the guidance of Coach Gatlin for four seasons, reaching Regionals each season and earning back-to-back District 13-3A titles. Brighton also reached the school’s first Sub-State last season guided by its Big Three.
“They put Brighton on the map,” Coach Gatlin said. “They did some incredible things in this program. I hate that they didn’t get a chance to actually see their accomplishments go on the wall. What they’ve done, they know what they’ve done, like last year winning a district championship. This year’s district championship, I hate that they didn’t get to see all of that. But we do appreciate all that they’ve have done.”