Following a trip to the Liberty District tournament finals last year, the Langley girls basketball team had high aspirations when this season began. Despite a rocky start, the Saxons (12-8 overall, 9-3 district) will not only be a major contender for the upcoming district tournament title, but also they will be one of the favorites to win it.
Langley started its season by stumbling out of the gate by going 3-6, including a loss to local rival McLean. In that nine-game span, the Saxon defense had trouble stopping opponents and gave up an average of 50 points a game. However, that would change, as the new year seemed to bring new life to the team.
"I think that it was the trip down to Miami that really helped us out," Langley coach Cheryl Buffo said of her team’s winter holiday break venture down south. "We didn’t start the season off like we wanted, but I think playing teams that we didn’t know and [who] didn’t know us gave us an opportunity to build team chemistry."
Since coming home from that holiday tournament, the Saxons have gone 9-2. Going into this week, they were just a game in back of first place South Lakes, who the Saxon’s swept a pair of games from during the regular season. If Langley wants to claim the upcoming district tournament title next week, it will most likely have to beat the Seahawks in their own gym, where the district finals will be held.
"I’m not quite sure why we have had such success against [South Lakes]," Buffo said. "The easy answer is that we have played defense well. They have three great players and we have done our best to deny them the ball."
<b>OFFENSIVELY</b> during the postseason, things will mostly be up to Saxon standouts Audrey Dotson, Rachel Warrick and Kristen Kody, who combined to average almost 30 points a game during the regular season. With any of those three players able to get hot at any time, it can make the Saxon offense hard to stop.
"With Kristen being more of an outside threat and Audrey and Rachel being more inside, it makes it hard for teams to match up against us," Buffo said. "When all three of them hit their averages, we usually don’t lose."
One of the keys in Langley’s strong district run this season has been the team’s experience from last year. Four of the five starters from that team are on this year’s roster with a year more of experience.
"I think last year’s trip to the [district] finals helps us a lot," Buffo said. "By upsetting Woodson in the semifinal, it gave the girls a great opportunity to play in that big of a game. If we end up playing South Lakes, that experience is something [the Seahawks] don’t have and I think it gives us a big advantage."
The Saxons finish off their regular season this week with games against Woodson, senior night, and at Marshall. The district tournament will start on Feb. 17 with Langley hosting a team to be determined.