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Liberty Boys’ Basketball Season Heating Up

Langley is unbeaten in district play; McLean, South Lakes each playing well.

A strong second half effort by the South Lakes’ High boys’ basketball team was not quite enough as the Seahawks lost a well-played Liberty District contest, 71-64, to home team McLean last Wednesday, Jan. 12.

McLean, under head coach Kevin Roller, won its following game as well two nights later, a Friday night affair at district foe Stone Bridge, 60-47. The victory over the Bulldogs improved the Highlanders’ record to 8-4 overall, 4-2 in the district.

South Lakes, which going into the McLean game had won consecutive games over both Jefferson and Stone Bridge, lost its most recent game – an 85-71 setback to visiting district rival Fairfax on Friday, Jan. 14 to slip to 6-7 overall and 4-2 in the district.

Another important Liberty District game last Friday matched Langley versus host Madison, a meeting won by the visiting Saxons, 63-51. With the triumph, the Saxons, under head coach Trevor Hess, improved to 8-6 overall. Langley, a much less experienced team than the Saxon squads that captured consecutive district tournament titles the past two years and reached the Northern Region finals last year, is a perfect 6-0 in district games.

Langley, which is guard-oriented this season, saw three players reach double figures as junior guard Austin Vasiliadis, senior guard David Adams, and junior guard Tristan Evans each scored 12 points. Senior guards Braden Anderson and Brenden Dwyer each added nine points and Daniel Dixon, a junior guard, scored seven for the Saxons, who led 28-23 at halftime and 41-31 after three quarters.

Madison (4-9) had nice games from senior guard Ian Doyle and junior Nate Favero, who both tallied 13 points. Kavan Ranasinghe, a senior, contributed nine points.

Madison, two days earlier, had beaten Vienna-cross-town rival Marshall High, 52-49, in a district home game. The victory was the Warhawks’ second in district play this season. Doyle (15 points), Jack Baule (11), and Favero (10) led the way for the Warhawks, who trailed 12-9 after one quarter and 31-26 at the half before coming back to win the close contest. Marshall, which received 16 points apiece from both Shelton Hardy and Latrell Watkins and 11 from Connor Barrand, fell to 3-11 with the loss.

<b>MCLEAN</b>, in its win over South Lakes last Friday, received a game-high 22 points from junior center Thomas Van Wazer. Other big games for the Highlanders came from junior guards Gordon Rogo (17 points) and Sango Amolo (12). For South Lakes, under first year coach Andrew Duggan, Joe Daye, a senior guard, put up 20 points while junior guards Mitchell Dempster (15 points) and J.D. Wallace (13) had big nights as well. Other scoring contributions for the Seahawks came from junior forward D.J. Christian (9 points) and senior guard Darius Smith (7).

The Highlanders jumped ahead of the Seahawks early, 8-2, and outscored them 20-10 in the first quarter to grab early control of the game. South Lakes made a couple of good runs in the second half – getting within three points at one point – but could not overtake the Highlanders.

“We haven’t started lots of games great,” said Roller, the McLean coach. “It takes us a while to get into it. I think [starting fast] is demonstrating the team we’re becoming. The rest of the game I thought we played disciplined and well. South Lakes made two strong runs to get back in the game in the second half. It was two pretty good teams playing.”

McLean followed the win over South Lakes with the victory over Stone Bridge on Friday. Van Wazer, McLean’s 6-foot-3 inch pivot player, scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds against the Bulldogs (2-12).

“Thomas plays the same way every game – he’s very, very consistent,” said Roller, of Van Wazer’s 14 points and eight rebounds per game average. “He’s our best rebounder and only takes good shots. He’s one of our best three-point shooters. He plays very solid, makes good decisions with the ball and is a real good shooter.”

South Lakes, a week prior to its loss to McLean, had beaten Stone Bridge, 69-66, at home on Jan. 6. Four Seahawks scored in double digits that night – Wallace (17), Daye (15), Christian (13) and Smith 12. Dempster added eight points for the Seahawks, who opened up an early 19-12 lead. South Lakes’ balanced scoring effort helped offset a huge night from Stone Bridge’s Jack Wohlfert, who scored a game-high 30 points.

In Liberty District boys’ games this Friday night, South Lakes will play at Madison, and Langley will host McLean.

The Langley, McLean matchup is always a great cross-town rival affair. McLean fell to Langley, 43-42, at home on Dec. 17. This Friday night’s meeting will be in a packed-out Langley gymnasium.

“The Langley game is always fun,” said Roller. “I told the kids, the game is going to be fun, exciting and it will be sold out. Langley has run the [district] table so far. They beat us by a point and have found ways to win the close games.”