In perhaps the Northern Region's most dramatic finish to a game this season, the Langley High Saxon girls stunned home team Jefferson with a buzzer beater, 43-42 win over the Colonials last Friday night in Alexandria.
Langley junior guard Kristen Kody, with time about to expire, launched a long three-point shot from the left wing — about two feet from behind the three-point arch — that swished through the net. As the final buzzer sounded, the Langley High players — those both on the court and on the bench — celebrated spontaneously as the scoreboard went from 42-40 Jefferson to 43-42 Langley.
"It was nothing but net," Langley coach Cheryl Buffo said of the game-winner that was launched fairly close to the Langley team bench. "It was unbelievable. I think [Kody's] reaction was priceless. She shot and it went in. It took a second to register [for her]. Her arms went in the air and she had this look like, 'I made it.' The whole bench went crazy."
<b>JEFFERSON, WHICH</b> had led most of the night, had a chance to perhaps put the game away over the final minute. But on two occasions over those final 60 seconds, the Colonials missed the front end of 1-on-1 free throw scenarios. Jefferson, up to that point, had been flawless at the line, hitting 12 of 12 free throws.
The second of the missed 1-on-1's resulted in a Langley rebound and an immediate Saxon timeout with just six seconds remaining with the score 42-40 Jefferson. Following the timeout, Langley's Kody took the inbounds pass and quickly moved the ball up court. She passed to teammate Lindsey Watts, who quickly got the ball back to Kody. With just a couple seconds left, Kody launched the long-range shot.
"She let it go and it went in," Buffo said.
It was a game Langley felt fortunate to have won. The Saxons, who trailed by five points with less than four minutes to play, struggled at the free throw line throughout the night, making just seven of their 17 foul shots. Langley's defense was probably the strongest part of the Saxons' game overall.
"Our defense was OK," Buffo said.
"Jefferson played a really nice game."
Langley's top scorer in the win was senior guard Rachel Warrick, who finished with 17 points.
Coach Buffo said she has never been on the winning side of such a dramatic finish to a game.
"I've lost games like that," she said, with a laugh. "We had to go the length of the floor and get a two to tie or a three to win in six seconds. I've never had that happen to me as a coach in AAU or high school."
<b>THE WIN OVER</b> Jefferson was the third district triumph of the week for Langley, which won at South Lakes, 60-39, on Jan. 6 and then defeated visiting Stone Bridge, 43-23, on Jan. 8. For South Lakes (9-1), the setback to the Saxons was its first of the season. Three Langley players scored in double figures in the huge road win — sophomore forward Audrey Dotson (15 points), Warrick (13) and Kody (12).
Also for the Saxons, who built a 14-0 lead to start the game, junior forward Alexis Doherty netted seven points.
South Lakes, which came back following the Langley loss to win district games over both Woodson and Jefferson last week, trailed the Saxons 29-14 at halftime. The Seahawks got within nine points of Langley in the third quarter, but never got closer thereafter.
"That was the first game for us where I thought it all came together," said Buffo, whose team was 6-6 overall and 3-1 in the district going into this week. "We played good offense and defense and shot well from the [foul] line and the perimeter. We disrupted [the South Lakes offense] by keeping the ball away from their top-three scorers."
In its next game, the win over Stone Bridge at home, Langley was led in scoring by Warrick (13 points) and junior guard Brooke Gallagher (9).
Langley was scheduled to play district games this week against visiting Madison on Tuesday, Jan. 13, and at W.T. Wood son this Friday night.