ARLEE – High school basketball has always been of the biggest events in Arlee, but over the past couple years, each game has become something you truly don’t want to miss. The Warriors and Scarlets are rolling once again.
The guys celebrated their breakthrough title from last year by hanging up their first state championship banner Tuesday night. Then they went out and put up another dominating performance, hammering rival St. Ignatius.
The Warriors have not shown any signs of slowing down. They’re averaging more than 84 points per game through a 7-0 start and clearly look like the favorites to repeat in Class C. And they’re putting in the work to stay on top.
“We don’t like running in practice, but we do like running in the game,” said star senior guard Phillip Malatare. “It helps our crowd get into it. They like it when we run. We’ll have a little fun in practice and a little fun in games, but mostly we’re pretty serious about this year.”
“Every night we know we’re going to get the team that we’re playing, we’re going to get their best game,” said head coach Zanen Pitts. “They’re going to spend all week and all night preparing to knock us out. Yeah, those big targets are special, because it makes us realize how special this moment is.”
Pitts admits his team is not as deep this year after losing a few stars to graduation, but it might be even faster and more athletic. And Malatare, one of the most impressive players in the state, continues to lead the way.
Meanwhile, the Arlee girls came only a single win away from matching the boys last year, losing in the state championship game. But the Scarlets didn’t look like a contender the whole year like the Warriors did. The ladies put it all together at the right time late in the season.
Arlee lost its first two games against tough competition this year, but now the Scarlets have won five straight and have put themselves ahead of the pace from a year ago, which could lead to a great finish again.
“This year, as a team, we’re working together a lot better than we were,” said senior forward Summer Darcangelo. “Sometimes when we’re doing really good we can just flow together. I think we can be really good. I think we can take first in state if we really try, and I think we can do it.”
“Getting second in the state, it makes you hungry to get back to that level of play,” said head coach Bill Stockton. “And I think if we keep progressing we’ve got a shot at that. There’s a lot of tough teams in girls basketball this year in the state. We’re going to really have to bring it in the second half of the season.”
Both teams praise the huge support the Arlee community gives the Warriors and Scarlets. They’ll get another chance to cheer in a home doubleheader versus Noxon on Saturday.