No matter where, when or what time, neighborhood high-school varsity basketball rivalry games are always of big interest. If first place also happens to be on the line for one of those clashes, they become even more special.
That was the case the night of Jan. 24, when the McLean Highlanders hosted and defeated the Langley Saxons, 51-45, in a Liberty District girls game. The result left McLean (11-5) and Langley (14-4) tied for first place with 7-1 records.
The loss snapped Langley’s nine-game winning streak. The 51 points were the second-most the Saxons allowed in a game this season.
For McLean, the victory avenged a 51-30 loss to Langley earlier this season and was the Highlanders’ fifth straight triumph.
The teams are back in action Friday, Jan. 27 against other district rivals.
The Jan. 24 contest was the first of a varsity doubleheader that night at McLean, with the Highlanders and Saxons boys teams meeting in the nightcap. McLean won that game as well, 65-63.
In the girls game, the lead seesawed throughout. There were 14 lead changes and three ties.
The final lead change came with 7:47 left in the fourth quarter, when the Highlanders moved in front for good at 35-34 on a three-pointer from the left wing by Tatum Olson. From that point, McLean maintained slight leads the rest of the way, with Olson and Vilte Kacerauskaite (10 points) making clinching foul shots in the final 10 seconds.
Olson led McLean in scoring with 20 points, including four three-pointers (three in the second half), and made four straight foul shots in the final period.
Alyssa Evans and Shushan Krikorian (nine points) also made fourth-quarter three-pointers for McLean. Kara Bremser scored five points for McLean and Brooke Thomas four.
Langley led at the end of the first quarter, 14-11; at halftime, 24-19, and after three periods, 34-32. The Saxons did not shoot well in the second half and were hurt by too many turnovers.
Anya Rahman was Langley’s top scorer with 19 points, including five three-pointers. She made four of those threes on her first four shots of the first quarter.
Briana Borcherding scored 11 for Langley, Raylin Harrell six, Madison Shamloo five and Alexis Tappan four.
For the McLean boys, their victory was the second over Langley this season. The win put the Highlanders (11-7, 5-3) in a three-way tie for second place in the district entering Jan. 27 action against the host Wakefield Warriors (9-9, 5-3), also tied for second.
Langley fell to 9-9, 2-5 with the Jan. 24 loss.
Daniel Fimbres scored 17 points and had three steals for McLean, Jimmy Higgins scored 15, Jakob Luu scored 13 and Isaac Bell had 11 points and four assists.
For Langley, Ryan Bradshaw made five three-pointers and scored 21 points and Patrick Kelly had eight points and nine rebounds.
NOTE: The second regular-season games between Langley and McLean boys and girls squads each winter are the annual Rotary Cup contests. So each McLean team will be in possession of the cup until next season.