The Highlander

McLean/South Lakes varsity basketball recap

Highlanders stay undefeated in district play knocking off the red hot Seahawks 67-63.

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McLean/South Lakes varsity basketball recap

The McLean Highlanders mens basketball team pose for the cameras following their big win against South Lakes. 
(Photo courtesy of Greg Miller).

The McLean Highlanders mens basketball team pose for the cameras following their big win against South Lakes. (Photo courtesy of Greg Miller).

The McLean Highlanders mens basketball team pose for the cameras following their big win against South Lakes. (Photo courtesy of Greg Miller).

The McLean Highlanders mens basketball team pose for the cameras following their big win against South Lakes. (Photo courtesy of Greg Miller).

Nick Monroy, Digital Media Editor

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Two years ago, the South Lakes Seahawks mens basketball team defeated the McLean Highlanders 73-45. That year, the Highlanders would fail to win a single game, marking one of the lowest points in the history of the program.

There’s no time like the present.

Tonight, the Highlanders not only defeated the reigning district champion Seahawks, but dominated them throughout. Never conceding the lead to South Lakes, and controlling the pace of the game from start to finish. Strong play from McLean’s starting five has been a huge factor in the Highlanders success this year, and tonight was no different. The Seahawks made several runs during the game, but were never able to get comfortable, surprising for a team that had yet to lose a road match up this year.

The Seahawks came into the game eyeing the first seed in the Liberty District. Prior to the game, they were 10-6 overall, and 3-1 in district play on a three game win streak, the most recent of which was a 60-48 victory over the Langley Saxons. The Highlanders came into Tuesday night’s match up undefeated in district play, sporting an 9-4 overall record with huge wins over Centreville and perennial state powerhouse Westfield under their belts. If the Hawks won, they would be tied for first place with the Highlanders. If McLean won, they would own sole possession of the top seed of the Liberty district, and control their own destiny with a chance at home court advantage throughout the playoffs. 

This would not be an easy win for the Highlanders. The Seahawks offense is no joke, mainly revolving around senior guard Cameron Savage, and for good reason. The 5’10” sharpshooter and Barton College basketball commit has been having a monster year, scoring 27 of the team’s 63 points tonight. Having such a hot hand has it’s drawbacks, as Savage took some questionable shots that failed to fall in the second half, which allowed the Highlanders to maintain their lead with clutch inside buckets from senior forwards Drew Marteen (6 points) and Evan Stout (10 points). 

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, it appeared that Savage was their only hope for offensive production. Senior guard Brian Adams had a rough outing, scoring a mere two points, and junior guard Remmey Carpenter only added ten points to the losing effort. While the Seahawks were able to edge the Highlanders in rebounds, specifically on the offensive side of the ball, it never seemed that they were able to do much with their second chance opportunities, which ultimately cost them the game. 

McLean senior guard Tucker Leggett (6 points) continued his strong year as the starting ball-handler with five assists and several key takes to the hoop as the Seahawks could do little to stop Coach Mike O’Brien’s movement driven offense. Leggett credits the success of the Highlanders this year to chemistry and experience above all else. 

“Some of us like Matias [Prock], Brian [Aka], Aaron [Hale] and I have been playing on the same team since the seventh grade,” Leggett said. “Our entire starting lineup has been on the varsity team for at least two years, some for even longer. We know what we are capable of on the court when we play together, and as seniors, we want to show everyone how good we really are.”

While South Lakes’ Savage may have lit up the box score, it was very apparent that the best player on the court was McLean guard Matias Prock. Prock continued his MVP caliber senior campaign with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, as well as another SportsCenter Top 10 highlight reel play when Prock dribbled between an opposing defenders legs for the second week in a row. 

The unsung hero of the game for the Highlanders was without question senior forward Brian Aka. Aka struggled at the beginning of the game with missed free throws and bad turnovers. He was animated on the sideline, visibly upset with his performance, only putting up five points through three quarters. But with the Seahawks mounting a fast and worrisome comeback, Aka sealed the win for the Highlanders with two clutch free throws in the closing seconds of the game. 

We want to show everyone how good we really are.”

— guard Tucker Leggett

The McLean Highlanders mens basketball team are on a roll, and will have a chance to keep their win streak and 5-0 district record alive this Friday as they take on the Langley Saxons at Langley High School, in a rematch of their 67-58 win on Jan. 11. The Highlanders will look to defend the Rotary Cup trophy, as the 1-8 Saxons look to close out a disappointing season with a win over their hated rivals. The Seahawks will look to bounce back in a rivalry game of their own against the 4-10 Herndon Hornets on Jan. 25.

McLean and South Lakes will meet again in Reston on Feb. 5 in one of the biggest games of the year. However, with the way these squads are looking, it would not be improbable to imagine the Seahawks and Highlanders will be playing each other for a third time down the road, likely for the Liberty District championship. 

If things go the way they did tonight, it may be banner season in McLean once again. 

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