Behind senior Ross Callaghan’s career-high 28 points, the Langley boys' basketball team (2-4) defeated the Chantilly Chargers (2-5) 44-37 on Friday night for its second consecutive victory. The Saxons once again fell behind early, trailing 19-16 at halftime, before rallying in the second half for the victory.
Callaghan was berated and badgered all night long in the backcourt as he handled point guard duties for all 32 minutes. How did he handle the pressure?
“I just kept my composure," Callaghan said. "Coach told me if they pressured me and we were not in a specific set to just blow by them.”
He blew by them all right and he scored; he scored a lot.
Callaghan runs the offense while playing vigorous, shutdown defense. He was the only player from either team to score in double figures all evening. Callaghan, however, is not playing one-on-five every night as his teammates are doing the little things that do not show up in the final box score.
The Chargers jumped out to a 15-8 lead after the first quarter and seemed physically dominating in the key aspects of the game. Chantilly went 6 of 7 from the floor while the Saxons only shot three field goals inside the 3-point arc. In fact, two Callaghan 3-pointers were able to keep the deficit from being larger than it was.
When asked about his team getting off to auspicious starts and then winning in consecutive games coach Scott Newman said, “we sometimes seem to start slow in zone (defense), but once we settle in it’s a tough defense to score on. Hopefully in the future we can get more comfortable sooner.”
The difference in the game came down to making and missing free throws. In the fourth quarter especially, both teams began to tire and consequently started making mistakes. It led to many turnovers and fouls, which made field goal attempts difficult to come by and therefore both teams lived at the charity strip in the fourth quarter. Neither team could put the game on ice officially and as a result the game was not decided until the closing seconds.
Both teams shot well from the field, the Chargers 60 percent and the Saxons 62.5 percent. Both teams had nightmarish performances from the line as Langley shot approximately 52.6 percent and Chantilly shot 26.9 percent. In the fourth quarter, Langley and Chantilly shot 52.9 and 25 percent respectively, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
With Langley down 29-27 early in the fourth quarter, Callaghan hit a jumper, stole an inbound pass, converted a three-point play, and hit another jumper all in the span of a minute --- a personal 6-0 run, induced by a diamond press, to give the Saxons a 34-29 advantage. In the end though, Newman rode his senior big men, William Gent and Austin Denham, who got crucial rebounds despite being in foul trouble.
"These seniors are our toughest guys to get rebounds for us, they are the best on the backboard so I kept them in despite the foul trouble," Newman said. "Getting the boards is the difference between winning and losing.”
The two seniors combined for 10-plus boards and matched the Chargers in physicality. Defensively, one Denham block with 4:27 left in the third quarter led to a fast break layup and electrified the whited-out crowd.
Langley will compete in the Mount Vernon holiday tournament Dec. 26-28.