The South County Stallions (7-3) beat the Langley Saxons (2-6) in day-two action in the Mount Vernon Holiday Basketball Tournament 59-52 in the consolation bracket play on Friday.
Stallion coach Travis Hess wished South County played any other school than the one he formerly coached.
“It was the one team I didn’t want to play” Hess said afterwards. “At least not so soon, after a tough loss the following night, it was easy to game plan but I still know most of the kids on that team as well as coach [Scott] Newman.”
Newman, on the other hand, said, “[coach Hess and I] shared some funny texts back and forth and while we preferred not to play them it was just another game and we gave them all we had.”
Hess, less than a year removed from being the head coach at Langley, squared off against first-year head coach Newman of the Saxons. Newman had been Hess’ assistant at Langley for the last four years and there were still players on the Saxons who Hess had personally coached.
After the first quarter, the score was knotted at 12. Then the Stallions outscored the Saxons 17-7 in the second quarter.
"We gave better effort today than yesterday," Newman said. "South County is a good team and we are still young.”
In the second half, South County jumped all over the Saxons. The Stallions extended their lead to 16 by outscoring the Saxons 15-9 and led 44-28 entering the fourth quarter. Langley, however, scratched and clawed back into the game by doing what it does best: draining 3-pointers. They hit three that quarter and by using a diamond press were able to cut the Stallion lead to four with 1:25 remaining. South County then hit six of its next eight foul shots to cement the victory in the final 73 seconds.
Through snow days and a prolonged football season, Hess admitted, “its on the coaching staff” and that “we haven’t had enough practices” when asked how South County can better learn how to close games. Both tournament games the Stallions have let their opponents back into the game. They blew a nine-point fourth quarter lead before losing to Oakton the night before. Hess was excited to get back to practice, however, in order to “work on everything.”
Missed free throws, turnovers, and inexperience doomed the Saxons yet again against yet another lengthy, athletic team whose offense fed off the press. The Stallions took advantage, especially senior Nathaniel Barrigan who scored a career high 31 points. Senior Christopher Antwi had 11 points for South County.
Seniors Ross Callaghan, who had his wisdom teeth taken out earlier this week, and Austin Denham had 18 and 10 points respectively for the Saxons.
South County plays in the fifth place game Saturday, Dec. 28 at 3 p.m. while Langley will play in the seventh-place game at 1 p.m.
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