WEST RUTLAND — Senior forward Kyle Laughlin led the West Rutland boys basketball team to a thrilling come from behind 55-50 victory over Arlington on Friday night.
The Golden Horde’s top scorer recorded 21 points in the back-and-forth contest. Laughlin was trusted by his coaching staff and teammates to have possession of the ball in the crucial final minutes of the game.
“Just to get the big shots, it shows how much respect my teammates have for me,” Laughlin said.
Senior forward for the Eagles, Kolby Wilkins, finished with a game-high 24 points. Wilkins’ physical and athletic play-making with crafty jump shots was on sight for Arlington, granting the Eagles the lead for the first three quarters.
A sluggish 0-5 start for Westside was ended by a 3 from Laughlin, his only made 3 in the game.
In the first quarter, Arlington’s scoring consisted of 12 points from Wilkins and six points from senior guard William Moore, with the Eagles leading 18-13 at the end of the quarter.
Laughlin would get the second quarter rolling with a layup off of a pretty assist from junior Timothy Blanchard. Blanchard finished with eight points.
A 7-0 run by West Rutland highlighted by layups from senior forward Liam Beaulieu and Laughlin, along with a 3 from Blanchard cut the Golden Horde’s deficit to just four points at halftime.
Momentum certainly shifted into Westside’s favor, and coach Jordan Tolar could feel it.
“I actually told the guys, I could come in here and nit-pick about a million things that we maybe didn’t do right, but I’m not gonna because I liked how we finished that last 1:16 of that half,” Tolar said.
“It felt good coming into the locker room with a little bit of energy. We’ve had a few games where it’s been a 10-12 point lead and we’re down, and we just don’t have that last push at the end of the half, and it just kinda feels flat coming into the locker room. Total opposite tonight.”
Back-to-back fast-break layups to start the second half saw Moore for Arlington and Tyler Serrani for West Rutland put points on the board for their respective teams. Moore and Serrani both dropped 13 points in the game.
Wilkins took over in the third, scoring his own 5-0 run with a 3 made from the left corner and a put-back layup. Golden Horde sophomore Levi Petit was able to retrieve an offensive rebound and followed up with a reverse layup as time expired in the third with West Rutland trailing 44-40.
With both teams tossing the lead back and forth until there was a standstill at 50 with 1:30 remaining in the game, Senior Ryan Smith landed a 3 for his first and only points on the night.
The Eagles received a chance at redemption but literally threw it away when Wilkins was doubled at the top of the 3-point-line and chucked the ball out of bounds.
Laughlin’s two made free-throws sealed the victory for Westside.
“We’re grinding right now, we need these wins,” Laughlin said. “We’re gonna stop at nothing to get ‘em.”
Next up for the Golden Horde is a road match-up with Sharon Academy at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Arlington returns to action on Tuesday as well for a 7 p.m. home game against Proctor.