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Rivals McLean and Langley Meet on Hardwood

Highlander girls prevail, while Saxon boys are also winners.

Local high school basketball fans from both McLean and Langley both got a taste of victory during an early season girls’-boys’ double-header last Friday night at McLean.

In the evening’s first game, the home team McLean girls’ bested Langley, 50-36, in the cross-town contest. Then, in the boys’ nightcap game, Langley edged the Highlanders, 43-42.

Langley, with the boys’ game win, improved its record to 2-4 overall. The Saxons, in the Liberty District affair, were led by David Adams’ 16 points. Also in double digit scoring for the Saxons was Jeff Cochran with 11 points. Braden Anderson added six points and Daniel Dixon five for the winners. For McLean (3-3), Gordon Rigo scored a game-high 17 points. He was the lone Highlander player in double digit scoring, although Thomas Van Wazer and Sango Amolo brought some balance to the team’s scoring output with nine and eight points, respectively.

McLean led 16-11 after one quarter but the Saxons trailed by just one point at halftime and trailed just 33-31 after three quarters before outscoring the guests 12-9 in the final stanza to win.

In the girls’ game, McLean (2-3) jumped out to a 14-7 lead after one quarter and held a 23-11 halftime advantage. The Saxons (0-4), still in search of their first win, were outscored by just two points in the second half.

Lisa Murphy led McLean with 15 points, while Andie Romness was also in double figures with 12 points. Erin Mundy contributed seven points, Christy Warren scored five and Shellie Kaniut four for the Highlanders.

Langley senior Sarah Kleinknecht and younger sister Jennie Kleinknecht, a sophomore, both scored 11 points to lead the Saxons. Jessica Stewart, another sophomore, added seven points.

The McLean girls, since beginning the season with losses to Robinson and Washington-Lee at the Woodson High Tip-Off Tournament, have won three of their last four games – a 39-26 home win over Falls Church, a 49-45 win at Yorktown, a non-region home loss to North Stafford, and the recent victory over Langley.

The Highlander girls are coached by Mike O’Brien, while Keith Eastman is at the helm of Langley.

<b>MCLEAN</b> boys’ head coach Kevin Roller, despite his team’s one-point loss to Langley, is pleased with the way his Highlanders have played early on this season. Since an 0-2 start, with the setbacks coming to Paul VI, 63-42, and Robinson, 74-49, at the Woodson Tip-Off, McLean has won three of its last four games, the setback coming to the Saxons on Friday after the Highlanders had won three straight over Falls Church, 66-41, Yorktown, 55-45, and The Heights (Wash., D.C.), 75-70 in overtime. In the win over The Heights, a private school opponent, Kevin Lastova nailed a three-pointer at the final regulation buzzer to tie the game and force overtime where McLean won.

The Highlanders have just three seniors on their roster – guards Edwin Manson and Brian Godla, and center Charlie Davis.

“We have had a strong start to our season,” said McLean coach Kevin Roller. “We are a team that is looking to improve each week and we have succeeded so far.”

While the Highlanders lost by lopsided scores in their two games at the Woodson tourney, Roller was not downcast regarding the contests with the Panthers and Rams.

“It was great to open the season against Paul VI and Robinson,” he said. “While we went 0-2 in the tip-off tournament we led both games at the end of the first quarter and saw not just what we could become as a team but what we needed to improve upon to accomplish our objectives. The guys were disappointed by the outcome but I told them that we were in a better position moving forward than if we had found a less competitive tournament and had gone 2-0.”

The Highlanders came back strong with their three straight victories.

“We played a very strong second half [against Falls Church] and then [against Yorktown] we played the best defense of the season and had five players score between eight and 15 points,” said Roller. “We slipped in our focus and execution in our game versus The Heights, giving up a nine-point halftime lead. But we were able to go the length of the floor in the final five seconds and hit a game tying three-pointer by Kevin.”

McLean’s top scorers through six games are juniors Rogo (18 points) and Van Wazer (14 points, 9 rebounds per game). Strong support has come from seniors Godla and Davis, as well as juniors Amolo, Daniel Lewis, Lastova, and Mark Hannibal.

The McLean boys will travel to Panama City Beach, Florida over the holidays (Dec. 28-30), where they will take part in the Area Glass Marlin Holiday Tournament, hosted by Arnold High School in Panama City Beach.

“Our goal at the tournament is to grow closer as a group and to continue to improve with each game against what will be much stronger competition than we saw in our Holiday Tournament last year. While we certainly hope to come home with a winning record in Florida, the more important objective is to continue to improve as a team and position us for the remainder of the District schedule and, hopefully, beyond.”

The Langley High boys (2-4) will be playing at Westfield High’s Bulldog Bash Tournament Dec. 28-30. The Saxons, in their tournament opener on Dec. 28, will meet Potomac High at 12:30.

Langley (2-4) lost its first four games to begin the season before coming back with two straight victories – 78-59 over visiting Fairfax on Dec. 14, and Friday’s one-point triumph over McLean. The Saxons were scheduled to play at Centreville High earlier this week on Tuesday, Dec. 21.