Few opponents can match the size and skill of South Lakes post players Abby Rendle and Princess Aghayere, who helped the Seahawks win 10 of their first 11 games.
At 6 feet 4, Rendle is a game-changer at each end of the floor. She can score in the paint or from the perimeter, and can alter an opponent’s shot with her long arms. Aghayere is an aggressive athlete who scored 15 points and grabbed 22 rebounds during a Jan. 8 contest against Fairfax.
On Jan. 10, the South Lakes girls’ basketball team traveled to face Madison and 6-foot-2 forward Kelly Koshuta, providing Rendle and Aghayere a rare opportunity to face a foe of similar size and skill.
“I know personally I was looking forward to this game because she’s really known and she plays very well,” Aghayere said about facing Koshuta, “so I was really excited for this game.”
Koshuta proved a worthy advisory, scoring a game-high 28 points. But Aghayere and Rendle each produced a double-double and spearheaded a dominant team-rebounding effort during a 60-52 South Lakes victory.
South Lakes out-rebounded Madison 50-14, including 24 offensive boards. While the Warhawks kept the score close, pulling to within four in the final minute, the Seahawks’ second-chance opportunities proved too much for Madison to overcome.
“It’s all about possessions for us,” South Lakes head coach Christy Winters Scott said. “The way that we’ve won a lot of games is to save possession for our team. Whether we score off of it or not, we get the clock [moving]. When we had the lead, it was very important for us to use that clock and get the extra possession from our boards.”
“I know personally I was looking forward to this game because [Kelly Koshuta is] really known and she plays very well, so I was really excited for this game.”
--- South Lakes junior Princess Aghayere
Aghayere grabbed 19 rebounds, giving her 41 in two games. She also scored 18 points, including a pair of free throws to give South Lakes a 44-37 lead late in the third quarter.
“They’re just very athletic and they work very hard,” Madison head coach Kirsten Stone said about the Seahawks. “I feel like they really wanted to beat us. … They’re a tough rebounding team, we knew that going in.”
Rendle finished with 15 points and 12 boards. Her bucket with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter capped an 8-0 run and gave South Lakes a 52-42 advantage.
“Every game we’ve played [against Koshuta], she’s always been a threat to us,” Rendle said. “She’s a really good post player, so being able to play against her also helps us get better as post players [and] as defensive and offensive players.”
Despite getting in early foul trouble, Koshuta helped Madison take a 25-19 lead when she converted a three-point play with 3:01 remaining in the second quarter. But with Koshuta on the bench late in the first half, Rendle scored a pair of buckets in the paint, helping South Lakes close the half on an 8-0 run. An Aghayere bucket early in the third quarter gave South Lakes a 29-27 advantage and the Seahawks would lead for the remainder of the contest.
“I look forward to this game all the time,” Koshuta said. “Most of the teams we play don’t have anyone who is even 6 foot, so it’s good to have this competition. I love playing against it. I get very psyched and pumped for it.”
Koshuta scored a game-high 28 points, including 19 in the second half, but grabbed just three rebounds. Koshuta’s coach praised Aghayere’s effort.
“I look forward to this game all the time. Most of the teams we play don’t have anyone who is even 6 foot, so it’s good to have this competition. I love playing against it. I get very psyched and pumped for it.”
--- Madison junior Kelly Koshuta
“Princess is just that quiet, athletic [player],” Stone said. “She’s fast when she needs to be fast, she slows down when she needs to be slow. She has that tenacity to get the ball. She knows where it is and goes for it. It’s hard to defend that.”
Madison sophomore guard Aidan McWeeney finished with 17 points, connecting on 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
South Lakes improved to 11-1, with its only loss coming against Central Bucks West (Doylestown, Pa.) during the Boo Williams Classic holiday tournament. The Seahawks will host Langley at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17.
Madison fell to 5-7. The Warhawks will travel to face McLean at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17.