By ANDY WOLF
ARCADIA — Randy Baker has coached Arcadia’s girls basketball team for the past 36 seasons but had never seen three of his top six players go down in one game to injury prior to Thursday night.
“That happens, you deal with it,” Baker said. “The kids on the floor sucked it up and made a game out of it.”
The Redskins pushed through it and didn’t go away until the final minute, but Arlington prevailed 40-33 in a battle for second place in the Blanchard Valley Conference.
All three injuries, two to Arcadia starters, occurred in a 11-minute stretch during the middle two quarters.
Arcadia’s 6-foot-2 senior post and leading scorer/rebounder Kennedy Pratt left at 6:55 in the second quarter; sophomore starting guard Samantha Burnett exited at 5:31 in the third after being fouled hard; and bench guard Reagan Pratt exited less than a minute later.
None of the three returned.
Arlington coach Seth Newlove hadn’t seen anything like it, either.
“That’s happened to us a couple times where we lost a starter or the other team lost a key player,” he said. “I hope they’re all OK.
“I would have loved to play them at full strength, but I think we were ready to go tonight no matter what. Our intensity was just through the roof tonight.”
Arlington improved to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in the BVC, while Arcadia dropped to 12-2, 5-2.
Jenna Pepple scored a game-high 20 points for the Red Devils.
She knocked in all 11 of her free-throw attempts, including 6 of 6 in the fourth quarter, as Arlington collectively made all 10 in the frame to put Arcadia away.
The Redskins never led at any point, even prior to the injuries, but hung around and came as close as 34-30 with 2:09 to go.
Pepple followed up a pair of Arcadia turnovers by knocking down four straight at the foul line in the final minute.
“That was a great fight on their part. They kept fighting no matter what,” she said of Arcadia. “I knew no matter what, even if they did have all their players, we were determined we were going to give 100 percent no matter what.
“(The free throws) definitely set the feel for the end of the game. You’ve got to step up there and knock them down.”
Both teams suffered off shooting nights by their standards.
Arlington converted 26 percent overall (12 of 46), 1 of 16 from 3-point range.
Arcadia had a little more outside success (3 of 16 from 3-point range) but was 9 of 41 overall.
“The only problem we had is we were cold tonight,” Baker said. “A lot of those shots we took normally go in, and we picked a heck of a day to go cold.”
The dynamic of the game changed dramatically when Kennedy Pratt scored in the paint but went down and had to be helped off the court with an apparent left knee injury.
Her bucket tied the low-scoring affair at 6-6 as the Redskins missed all eight field goals in the first quarter.
Pepple scored nine straight in the second quarter to help Arlington take a 19-13 halftime edge.
Newlove still had to make some adjustments as Arcadia brought more speed on the floor with Kennedy Pratt out.
“We thought we were the faster team originally and now our post players were having to guard perimeter players,” he said. “Our girls’ effort was 32 minutes. We can’t control what happens to them.
“I respect coach Baker. I really like their players. They’re great kids over here, and I hope they get healthy soon.”
The initial absence of Kennedy Pratt led to a few turnovers on bad passes, three on their next four possessions, yet the Redskins gained their composure and only totaled four in the second half.
Arcadia’s Samantha Watkins scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half and added seven rebounds. Danielle Burnett added six points for Arcadia. Lyndee Ward had four points and six rebounds.
“They picked it up,” Baker said. “Instead of hanging their heads and feeling sorry for themselves because we lost some kids, we got fired up and played.”
For Arlington, 6-foot-1 senior Morgan Smith posted 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Smith and Hannah Willow (four blocks) largely kept the smaller Arcadia lineup out of the post as Willow chipped in six points and eight rebounds.
“Hannah Willow had a really good game defensively,” Newlove said. “She was geared up to guard Kennedy from the start but when she went out she guarded Watkins.
“Her blocks seemed to be timely and started the fast break for us.”
ARLINGTON (11-3, 6-1 BVC)
Smith 4-2–10, Willow 3-0–6, Solt 0-2–2, Sheets 1-0–2, Pepple 4-11–20. TOTALS: 12-36 15-15–40.
ARCADIA (12-2, 5-2 BVC)
Mock 1-0–2, D. Burnett 1-3–6, Cramer 0-2–2, Ward 2-0–4, K. Pratt 1-2–4, Watkins 4-5–15. TOTALS: 9-41 12-13–33.
Arlington 6 12 9 12 — 40
Arcadia 2 11 10 10 — 33
3-Point GOALS: Arlington 1-16 (Pepple 1); Arcadia 3-16 (Watkins 2, D. Burnett 1).
rebounds: Arlington 36 (Willow & Sheets 8); Arcadia 25 (Watkins 7).
turnovers: Arlington 11; Arcadia 13.
junior varsity: Arlington 30-23.