By TED RADICK
VAN BUREN — Not every game is going to be an offensive masterpiece.
Often times, it’s the little things that make a difference, and Arlington boys basketball coach Jason Vermillion was quick to point that out Friday after the Red Devils downed Van Buren 54-43 in a Blanchard Valley Conference game.
“We’ve always preached what we want to get done defensively, and tonight was a pretty good indication of being able to secure this thing on the defensive end,” Vermillion said.
Arlington was missing center Michael Blunk for large parts of the game with foul trouble, and point guard Andrew Hunter had an off night with a 4 for 14 shooting performance.
Defense kept the Red Devils in control as Arlington forced 25 Van Buren turnovers.
“We were able to get some scores off turnovers,” Vermillion said. “For us to come out of here with a double-digit victory feels pretty good, despite us not having our offensive game be what we’d like it to be.”
Arlington (12-2, 8-0 BVC) clinched at least a share of the league title with Hardin Northern remaining on the conference schedule.
“Trying to clinch something is not easy, and Van Buren is very much a quality opponent,” Vermillion said. “Coach (Marc) Bishop has that group going in the right direction. They are getting better each year, and they made us work for everything we wanted to get done tonight.”
The Black Knights (10-7, 5-3 BVC) showed their mettle in the third quarter, when they cut a nine-point Arlington lead to four.
Daniel Roberts got things started with a mid-range jumper. Marcus Brand canned a 10-footer, and Braxton Fasone worked inside for a layup.
Jameson Jacobs scored on a layup on Van Buren’s next possession, and the Black Knights’ 9-4 run closed the Arlington lead to 32-28 with a minute remaining in the third.
“We’re in a much better place this year, in the third year of my tenure, but there’s still improving to be done,” Bishop said. “I thought tonight, beyond skill, our guys took the floor tonight with a lot more confidence. I could see it in their eyes, they were out there to win. They actually believed it, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
An Arlington scoring run to answer the one the Knights put together played a large role. Hunter ended the third quarter with a layup, and Matt Glick had back-to-back layups early in the fourth quarter.
The second of those, which put Arlington up 39-30, was on a runout after a steal. Van Buren was plagued by turnovers all night, and gave the ball away at least five times in all four quarters.
“Turnovers is the one thing we’ve talked about all year, and I’ve told them that against good teams we just cannot afford to have that many turnovers,” Bishop said. “We tell the kids, too, that’s its OK to have aggressive turnovers. If we get out and run and throw some away, that’s one thing. But, tonight, we had some unforced turnovers and that’s not going to get you wins.”
Blunk scored nine points in the fourth quarter as Arlington pulled away, and finished with 13 points. Jordan Freed also scored 13 for the Red Devils, with Hunter and Glick adding 11 each.
Freed hit three 3-pointer in the first quarter, the first of which broke an 8-8 tie. A trey at the buzzer to end the first put Arlington up 19-12.
“He hurt us tonight,” Bishop said, “and good teams have players that step up and make those shots. That was pretty much the difference in the score at the end of the first half.”
Fasone led the Black Knights with 13 points off the bench. Roberts had 12 points.
Arlington (12-2, 8-0 BVC)
Hunter 4-3—11, Freed 5-0—13, Starr 1-0—2, Blunk 4-5—13, Courtney 0-1—1, Glick 4-3—11, Green 0-1—1, Babb 0-2—2, McDowell 0-0—0, Speyer 0-0—0. TOTALS: 18-42 15-25—54.
Van Buren (10-7, 5-3 BVC))
Endicott 1-0—2, Junge 2-0—5, Brand 1-0—2, Roberts 5-1—12, Williams 0-0—0, Fasone 3-7—13, Jacobs 3-0—6, Franklin 0-0—0, Turner 0-0—0, Adolph 1-0—3. TOTALS: 16-36 8-11—43.
Arlington 19 7 9 19 — 54
Van Buren 12 7 9 15 — 43
3-Point GOALS: Arlington 3-14 (Freed 3); Van Buren 3-10 (Adolph, Roberts & Junge).
rebounds: Arlington 18 (Glick 6), Van Buren 28 (Jacobs 6).
turnovers: Arlington 10, Van Buren 25.
junior varsity: Arlington, 32-28.
By TED RADICK