It was slated as the rematch of the year. McLean defeated South Lakes in the first bout of the season in a game that came down to the final minute. Going into their second meeting, the Highlanders and Seahawks were tied for first place, with the winner taking sole possession of the number one seed in the Liberty District.
It was anything but.
Not only did the Highlanders lose arguably one of the biggest games of the season, the Seahawks came out swinging, and quickly took the lead on a McLean squad that has struggled to get going in the past week. Seahawks sophomore guard Matthew Lauture (11 points) went off in the first quarter, going 3/4 from downtown, helping the Seahawks torch the Highlanders in the early going.
McLean struggled all night to get going from the field. Going an abysmal 30% (6/20) from three point land, and 37.2% overall. Meanwhile, the Seahawks couldn’t miss a shot, landing 55.4% of their field goals, which included 57.1% from long range.
The Hawks were not only flying on offense, but also locking down the Highlanders on defense. South Lakes had a staggering 13 steals, most of which came down low and in transition. They completely shut down McLean senior foward Drew Marteen (0 points), who was only able to put up a single shot in 13 minutes of action.
To their credit, the Highlanders were able to isolate South Lakes senior guard Cameron Savage (31 points) in the early going. In fact, Savage didn’t notch a single point in the first quarter of action.
But then, the Seahawks star took over the game.
Savage scored 17 points in the second quarter, and 9 in the third quarter, with seven of his 12 baskets coming from beyond the arc.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, with the score 61-40, Highlanders Head Coach Mike O’Brien made the decision to pull the majority of his starters, leaving only senior guard Matias Prock to finish the game with the underclassmen reserves.
The Highlanders had their worst game from the field of the entire season. Prock only managed 15 points, senior forward Brian Aka had just 11, and senior guard Tucker Leggett was one of several McLean players who didnt score a single basket, going 0/4 from the field.
The Seahawks earned this win. No doubt about it. From the moment the buzzer rang in McLean a few weeks ago, it was clear that this was the game they had circled on their calenders. They outplayed, outscored, outhustled, and outperformed the Highlanders tonight.
However, to say that South Lakes is better than McLean is not only incorrect, it is not backed up by the statistics either.
Besides Savage and Lature, the rest of the Hawks starters did not put up great performances. Senior guard Brian Adams managed only to score four points, and senior forwards Izaiah Williams-Baffoe (2 points) and Jerome Scott (6 points) played sloppy thoughout. Futhermore, Seahawks guard Joseph Dagbee (10 points), who is arguably South Lakes’ second best player, scored the majority of his points well after the Highlanders starters were long gone in the fourth quarter.
When asked about how to respond and bounce back from such a devastating loss, Prock’s response was simple and clear, “We just got to play hard Friday and forget about it… all we can do now is get better and learn from it.”
Unfortunately for the Highlanders, the loss has all but secured a first place seeding for the Seahawks. Their best hope now is to beat the 7-14 Yorktown Patriots on senior night (Feb. 8) and hold onto second place. The biggest threat to McLean at this point is the 11-9 Washinton-Lee Generals, who are tied with the Highlanders for the final remaining first round bye.
If the Highlanders and Generals both win on Friday, then second place is decided by a coin flip. You heard me. A coin flip.
The Generals will play the 6-13 Herdon Hornets to finish their regular season campaign. So while the Highlander faithful applaud their eight senior ball players this Friday for all their work over the past four years, many will have their eyes glued to updates of the game being played in Herndon.