"Pete said it was time for me to go do something," Arnold said.
First, Arnold stole the ball for a quick basket. Then the 6-foot-5 senior drilled a 30-footer seconds before the buzzer to give FLC a three-point lead, and the Bobcats went on to defeat Bok, 68-59, in a Public League quarterfinal playoff game.
FLC will meet University City in the semifinals Sunday at the Civic Center. Simon Gratz will play Overbrook in the other semifinal game.
In a game that was nothing short of snap, crackle, pop basketball on both ends of the court, Arnold single-handedly took control for FLC. He finished with 35 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Joe Brown added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Michael Robinson had 11 points and nine rebounds for FLC.
By halftime, Arnold had 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. In the third quarter alone, he had 11 points. And in the final period, he added nine.
"Sometimes someone has to get us going, and I knew it would be me," Arnold said. "When I was younger, I could play point guard even though I was big. If I had to take control of a game, I could. If I had to drive and penetrate, I could."
When he had to yesterday, he shot the three-pointer or the 15-footer from the baseline. When he had to, he drove the baseline and laid in a soft turnaround. When he had to, he dunked.
And when Arnold stole the ball late in the fourth quarter, he dribbled behind his back, put a pivot move on two defenders, spun, and sank an eight- footer in the lane with his left hand for a 64-55 lead that finished the Wildcats.
"We couldn't stop him," said Bok senior forward Fred Warrick, who had 24 points and six rebounds.
FLC won because its 1-2-1 defense denied Warrick the ball in the final quarter, limiting him to five points in the period. Bok lost because it could not contain Arnold and committed 20 turnovers, including seven in the first quarter after the Wildcats had taken a 9-0 lead.
"When we run our 2-1-2 offense, we score at will," Merlino said. "We played well, but we didn't play with as much poise as we should have. We always seem to struggle in the quarterfinals."
Luckily for him, he had Noot on his side.
In other Public League playoff action, Gratz, the top-rated team in The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10, fought off a strong first-half challenge from visiting Martin Luther King to win, 69-55.
The Bulldogs led, 19-15, after one quarter, but the Golden Cougars rallied to tie the game at 30 by halftime. Gratz then went on to outscore King, 18-9, in the third quarter to gain some breathing room.
All five starters for the Bulldogs scored in double figures. Lynard Stewart, Brian Samuels and Terrell Stokes scored 14 points apiece for Gratz. Lormont Sharp poured in a game-high 22 points for the Cougars.
Overbrook jumped out to an early 21-2 lead and held off visiting Franklin,
The Panthers took a huge lead in the first quarter, then watched as the Electrons rallied to cut the margin to 47-36 by the end of the third quarter.
Andre Howard paced the Panthers with 24 points, and Far'd Nasir scored 13 points for Franklin.
Rasheed Brokenborough scored 29 points to help lead University City to a 70-54 win over visiting Olney.
Brokenborough sank seven baskets, including a pair of three-pointers, and
went 9 for 12 from the free-throw line. He added 15 rebounds for the Jaguars.
Tariek Stinson scored 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for University City, and Larry Strand grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half. Spencer Poulson led the Trojans with 22 points.