Boys basketball battles Langley

The Highlanders and Saxons split their 2021 meetings


TIGHT DEFENSE- The Highlanders match up with the Saxons on the defensive end of the court in their game at Langley on Jan. 22. McLean ultimately lost the game 55-40.

Jack Shields and Nicky Varela

Normally one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year for McLean and Langley students alike, the rivalry basketball games between the two schools were far from the usual due to COVID protocols. Although the games were played without the typical roaring student sections and jam-packed gymnasium bleachers that McLean community has become accustomed to in this rivalry, the games were as competitive as ever on the court.

The Highlander boys triumphed in their first meeting with the Saxons in a back-and-forth game at home 72-67, on Jan. 6. Heading into the game, the team kept their outlook pretty simple.

“The mindset was that we were going to win the game,” senior forward Aaron Bremser said.

Despite grabbing a slight first quarter lead, the Highlanders fell a point behind at the half. The team was able to use halftime to their advantage, as they altered their game plan to regain the lead.

“They had a very fast-paced offense, so we shifted our defensive strategy to better guard them,” Bremser said.

In a game that was tightly contested from start to finish, McLean was able to pull ahead towards the end of the 4th quarter and hold onto the victory. The Highlanders were confident in their approach to the second game, as they were now aware of Langley’s playstyle.

“We now know Langley’s strengths, so next time we play them we will already know what’s coming at us,” Bremser said.

Unfortunately, McLean would be without their second-year starter for the second match, due to a back injury that Bremer sustained earlier this season. His absence in the scoring department was evident throughout the game, resulting in one of the team’s lowest scoring performances this season.

The Highlanders started out hot, grabbing a 15-4 advantage at the conclusion of the first quarter. The defensive side of the ball was particularly strong, as Langley did not score until 2:24 left in the quarter.

However, the Saxons snapped out of their first-quarter funk and scored at will in the second quarter, pouring in 26 points to the Highlander’s 13. The 11-point lead the Highlanders nabbed after the first had completely evaporated by halftime, now being down 30-28.

The third quarter was almost as ugly as the second for McLean, as Langley’s lead grew from two points into a 13 point lead with a quarter remaining. The Highlanders were not able to come back, and lost to the Saxons 55-40. On the statistical side, Senior Nate Legg finished with 15 points and junior Zach Hasan added in 12.

Despite the loss, the Highlanders are hoping to finish the season strong. With three games left to play, the boys will look to pick up wins against South Lakes, Washington-Liberty, and Herndon. In what has been a bizarre season for everyone surrounding the sport, McLean should be proud of the work that their basketball teams have put into this season.