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Liberty Boys' Basketball Teams Readying for Playoffs

Unbeaten Saxons still on top of standings, with McLean and South Lakes pursuing second place; Warhawks playing underdog role.

Two-time defending Liberty District boys' basketball champion Langley, under head coach Travis Hess, looks to be in the driver's seat of the district standings as the regular season nears an end with just over a week remaining.

The Saxons, 11-6 overall going into this week, remained unbeaten in district play at 9-0 following their 82-68 district win at Fairfax last Tuesday, Jan. 25. Sitting in second place was the steady McLean Highlanders' team (11-7, 7-3), which is vying for at least the No. 2 seed as the district tournament time draws nearer. McLean won its sixth game over its last seven played last Saturday when it defeated district foe and guest Marshall, 70-56. The Highlanders' lone loss of late came at Langley, 57-47, on Jan. 21. Since then coach Kevin Roller's squad has wins over Jefferson and the Statesmen.

Right in the mix of things is South Lakes, a program which has struggled somewhat in recent years but is experiencing a respectable season under new head coach Andrew Duggan. The Seahawks, although just 8-9 overall, are 6-4 and fourth place in the district. The team did take a hit this past Saturday when it lost a close 55-54 affair at fifth place Jefferson (9-8, 5-5).

Fairfax (9-8), going into this week, was a half game ahead of South Lakes for third place with a 6-3 district mark. The three-team cluster of Fairfax, South Lakes and Jefferson are all vying for the No. 3 seed for tournament time.

Rounding out the eight-team district standings are Stone Bridge (4-13, 3-6), Madison (4-12, 2-7) and Marshall (3-14, 0-10).

At the district tournament, set to begin on Monday, Feb. 14, quarterfinals round winners will automatically earn a spot at the following week's 16-team Northern Region tournament. Last year, Langley, after winning the district tourney, went on to reach the region finals for the first time in school history. The Saxons lost in the region championship game to Chantilly, but still went on to be one of the region's two representatives at the state AAA tournament.

In Langley's win over Fairfax last week, a big second quarter of play proved to be the difference in the contest. The Rebels led the game 17-16 after one quarter before the Saxons got untracked and outscored the hosts 18-7 in period two to take a commanding 34-24 lead at the half. The Saxons remained in control throughout the second half to gain the win.

A huge game for Langley came from guard Austin Vasiliadis, who poured in a game-high 27 points. But the talented backcourt playmaker was not the only one producing points for the guests as Daniel Dixon (19 points), Braden Anderson (15) and Brenden Dwyer (10) were all in double digits. Fairfax also received a balanced attack behind solid play from Spencer Macleod (17 points), who quarterbacked the Rebels' football team to the Div. 6 region playoffs last fall; Jazz Holley (14 points), John Robic (13) and Zack Burnett (12).

McLean, in its victory over Marshall on Saturday, had its hands full as the Statesmen carried a 35-34 lead into the half. Marshall still held a two-point lead after three quarters before the Highlanders dominated play in the fourth quarter by outscoring the guests 24-8 to gain the win. McLean guard Gordon Rogo scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Highlanders. Kevin Lastova contributed 11 points for the winners, while both Sango Amolo and Thomas Van Wazer scored nine points.

Marshall's top scorers in the setback were Latrell Watkins (11 points), Aaron Aggen (10), Connor Barrand (10) and Mo Samantar (9).