By TED RADICK
ARLINGTON — The Arlington Red Devils knew they would have to go to Plan B on Friday night.
Without injured center Michael Blunk, Arlington knew Vanlue post Zach Garber would dominate in the paint.
The Red Devils played solid perimeter defense on the rest of the Wildcats and held off a fourth-quarter Vanlue rally for a 42-37 victory in a Blanchard Valley Conference boys basketball game.
“We knew that Zach (Garber) was going to get the points he gets every night, and we focused on not allowing the other ones to get theirs,” Arlington coach Jason Vermillion said.
“Linden Smith had eight, and we’ll live with that. If we could keep anyone else from getting into double digits, we thought we would have a chance to win the game.”
Garber had 21 points and 11 rebounds but the Wildcats were unable to establish a perimeter offense. Andrew Hunter led Arlington with a game-high 22 points, including four free throws in the final 15 seconds to ice the victory.
Arlington improved to 14-2 overall and 6-1 in BVC play, and stayed a game behind Liberty-Benton (15-1, 7-0) in the league standings. Vanlue fell to 11-5, 4-3.
“They have kids who are shooting 35 percent and above on 3-pointers, and we just wanted to make sure we had pressure on them as much as we could,” Vermillion said.
“It was no secret we were bringing the second guy to Zach most of the time, so the play we got from the perimeter guys on the defense was great.”
The Wildcats were 0 for 7 from 3-point range.
“We had some open 3s that my guys passed up,” Vanlue coach Dean Birchmeier said. “Arlington was on us outside so much tonight that I think when they were open, they didn’t know it.”
Blunk, out with a sprained ankle, didn’t dress Friday. Vermillion cited the work of senior Kody Frysinger and junior Blake Courtney, called up from the junior varsity, with keeping Garber from scoring at will inside.
“I can’t say enough about our kids’ preparation tonight,” he said. “They bought into everything.”
Arlington’s in-your-face defense forced 16 turnovers and disrupted Vanlue’s halfcourt game, After Hunter pulled up on a drive for a short jumper late in the third quarter, Arlington led 29-19 and seemed in firm control.
“Arlington took us out of a lot of things that we were trying to run,” Birchmeier said. “So, basically, we had a hard time getting into any of our sets because of their pressure defense that we’re not used to.
“We need to get used to that.”
The Wildcats rallied behind Garber. He hit a pair of free throws to end the third and another to start the fourth quarter. He followed with an offensive rebound and putback and added a layup as Vanlue cut Arlington’s lead to 35-27 with 4:55 left.
A couple of 3-point misses by the Red Devils allowed the Wildcats to creep even closer.
“We felt the shots we were taking, even though they were deep ones up eight to 10 points, were good shots for some of our better shooters,” Vermillion said. “They just didn’t fall for them tonight.”
Vanlue cut Arlington’s lead to one possession at several points late in the fourth quarter, and trailed just 39-37 after Smith drove for a layup with 25 seconds left. The Wildcats were forced to foul in the late going, and couldn’t match Hunter’s free throws.
“We dug too deep of a hole,” Birchmeier said. “We fought to try and get out of it, and we got close, but we could never get over the hump.”
Vanlue couldn’t overcome giving up so many possessions to turnovers.
“We fed Zach OK, but we threw away a number of passes trying to get it to him as well,” Birchmeier said. “That was a mixed bag.”
Vanlue (11-5, 4-3 BVC)
Clymer 1-4—6, Hagerty 1-0—2, L. Smith 3-2—8, Garber 8-5—21, Watson 0-0—0, A. Smith 0-0—0, Coldren 0-0—0. TOTALS: 13-28 11-13—37.
Arlington (14-2, 6-1 BVC))
Hunter 7-5—22, Freed 0-0—0, McBride 3-1—9, Frysinger 3-2—8, Glick 1-0—2, Metzger 0-0—0, Courtney 1-0—2, Steinman 0-0—0. TOTALS: 15-37 8-13—43.
Vanlue 8 8 5 16 — 37
Arlington 11 10 8 14 — 43
3-Point GOALS: Vanlue 0-7; Arlington 5-16 (Hunter 3, McBride 2).
rebounds: Vanlue 22 (Garber 11); Arlington 15 (Hunter 4).
turnovers: Vanlue 16, Arlington 6.
junior varsity: Arlington, 49-17.