Bittersweet tears flowed from the eyes of Andie Romness on Monday evening.
The McLean senior scored a career-high 27 points against Mount Vernon in the opening round of the Northern Region tournament. Her leadership and timely buckets helped the Highlanders compete against the aggressive and athletic Majors.
Unfortunately for Romness, her best performance in a Highlander uniform wasn’t enough to keep it from being her last.
The McLean girls basketball team’s season ended with a 69-57 loss at Mount Vernon High School. After stumbling to a 12-point first-quarter deficit, the Highlanders pulled to within four at halftime when Romness buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer. After the Majors built a 10-point third-quarter lead, Romness converted a three-point play and later scored in the paint to pull McLean within three. She scored eight points in the fourth quarter, fighting to keep the Highlanders’ season alive.
"I thought she had an outstanding game," McLean coach Mike O’Brien said. "She’s been our leader all year. She really stepped up versus a [tough] team like [Mount Vernon]. She showed the younger kids how you’re supposed to step up. … She loves to compete, she hates to lose [and] she didn’t want her career to end."
While it wasn’t enough, Romness was left with the satisfaction of knowing she left everything she had on the court.
"I feel like I’ve come full circle," Romness said. "I feel like I’m done and I did my best … and I don’t feel like I forgot anything."
McLean trailed by two late in the third quarter, when a basket by Maia Lee cut Mount Vernon’s lead to 37-35 with 2:16 remaining. But the National District-champion Majors responded with a 13-0 run and advanced to the quarterfinals.
McLean, the fourth-place team from the Liberty District, finished the season with a 12-10 record.
"The biggest thing I can say is my kids didn’t quit --- they fought to the very end," O’Brien said. "A loss like that, I can always take. The kids played hard. [Mount Vernon] is a very good team. Even though they’re young, that athleticism, for seven deep, that’s tough to match up with for four quarters."
Mount Vernon held an advantage in speed and quickness, but sophomore Lisa Murphy worked hard to assure McLean could capitalize on its superior size. Murphy scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Her 10 first-half boards helped keep Mount Vernon from running away with the game after jumping out to an early lead.
"I think we did a good job of not giving up," Murphy said. "Whenever Mount Vernon would start to get a lead, we just kept fighting back. I think that really shows part of what we’ve learned [about] becoming a team."
Murphy will be a key part of next year’s McLean team.
"She’s really come along throughout the year," O’Brien said. "From the beginning of the year, we had to work on her being aggressive. As you can see, going for 16 boards, that’s being aggressive. She’s really developing. I’ve got her for two more years, so that’s nice."
McLean will lose Romness, Kristina Bettner and Erin Mundy to graduation, but will return five players who scored during Monday’s game.