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Highlanders Cool Off in Girls Basketball

McLean looking to get back on track in district play this week.

Perhaps it's just a midseason slump, but McLean High girls basketball coach Mike O'Brien did not like what he saw from his usually hard working, ready-to-go team last week in Liberty District losses to both Woodson and Madison.

"We started out the season outhustling and outworking people," said O'Brien, in his fifth season as the program's head coach. "The last few games I feel we've slacked off a little and been outworked."

McLean (7-5 overall, 2-2 in the district) fell at Woodson last Tuesday, Jan. 6, 59-45, before losing at home to Madison, 48-34. The Warhawks are coached by former McLean coach Kirsten Roberts (see connectionnewspapers.com, and go to Vienna sports).

"I felt we got outhustled to loose balls," said O'Brien, of last week's district losses. "In my four years here I've prided myself on us getting to balls."

<b>MCLEAN, UNDER</b> O'Brien, has shown improvement every year. The Highlanders went 9-13 his first season and have won 10, 12 and 14 games in each season since. Last year's 14-11 team qualified for the Northern Region playoffs for the second straight year. O'Brien believes this year's team, a younger, less experienced squad than last year, can continue the program's upward progression. But the Highlanders need to quickly get back to playing the spirited ball that helped them begin the season 7-2.

"We started off this season with limited experience," O'Brien said. "We told the kids our goal was to get better and to outhustle teams."

Expect McLean to regain its earlier season form. The Highlanders' district wins thus far have come over Jefferson and cross-town rival Langley.

McLean's key players this season have included senior shooting guard Caity Flint (8 points per game), junior point guard Caitlin Baker (5 points), sophomore guard Andie Romness (team leading 9 points) and junior post player Melissa Wilson (8 points).

<b>OVER THE HOLIDAYS</b> McLean traveled to St. Petersburg, Fla., where it competed in the Suncoast Classic. There, the Highlanders reached the finals of the eight-team field. They won games over Florida schools Clearwater Catholic, 49-31, and Mount Dora High, 54-31, before losing in the championship game to St. Thomas Moore of Canada, 50-33.

In last week's district games, Wilson (13 points) and Romness (10) were both in double figures in McLean's loss to Woodson. Junior guard Lauren Sutherland contributed nine points in the game in which the Highlanders trailed by just a 34-33 score at the half.

In the Madison game three days later, Romness led McLean with 13 points while Flint netted seven.

This week, McLean was scheduled to play district games at Stone Bridge on Tuesday and at home against Marshall this Friday night.