Boys varsity basketball completes season sweep of Langley

Highlanders emerge victorious in rivalry shootout

McLean wins, 65-63

The seats were packed, yet nobody was sitting. Energy and tension from the girls varsity game that had just ended in a Highlander win lingered heavily in the air as the court was once again filled with athletes. It was time for round two of the McLean-Langley basketball game, with the Highlanders boys team looking to complete their season sweep of the Saxons.

Each school showed out in full to support their boys; the McLean student section was completely decked out in black, screaming and jeering at Langley’s smaller, yet just as boisterous group. Cheering was loud from well before the game started, with each school’s fans shouting their support for their team as starting lineups were introduced.

Right from the tip, it was clear both teams were evenly matched. Fouls, turnovers and points were all traded back to back, with neither team being able to find a meaningful lead at all. McLean was finding success with quick, short passes that freed up players to drive to the paint, while Langley was flexing their range by raining in three after three. The Highlanders managed to string together a quick series of passes that led to a late layup, ending the first quarter with a two point lead.

As the second quarter kicked off, both teams continued their ferocious battle, each side more than willing to step up and contest any inch that their opponent looked to gain. Both teams mostly stuck to their game plans; Langley fired from range, McLean made small cuts to try and penetrate the paint. With the crowd roaring behind them, the Highlanders managed to very slightly extend their lead by halftime.

Returning to the court, neither team had lost their momentum, and the crowd had only gotten rowdier. Student sections exchanged chants while the athletes continued playing their games, elevating their play to include more of what the other team was doing well. The Highlanders started taking more of their shots from the mid-range and from behind the arc, while the Saxons started implementing drives to the rim into their offense. McLean still managed to maintain their advantage for the most part—until, at the final moments of the quarter, a Langley player managed to make a full court shot kiss the net.

Suddenly, the momentum was on the Saxons’ side. The game was well within reach with McLean only leading by two, and Langley’s crowd was amped up entering the fourth quarter. It took McLean senior Jimmy Higgins hitting a deep three pointer at the beginning of play to silence them and swing momentum back into the Highlanders’ favor.

From there, the game was an all out brawl. Momentum was constantly swinging between the teams, the lead was never safe on either side and the gym was deafeningly loud. Every shot was countered by another. No pass was left uncontested. The true decider was foul trouble; McLean entered the bonus first, giving them crucial free throws in the waning moments of the game. With the game knotted up at 63, senior Daniel Fimbres managed to sink the first of his two free throws, but missed the second. Langley rebounded and, with about ten seconds left in regulation, called a timeout to try and organize an attack.

When play resumed, the Saxons’ plot was foiled by senior Jakob Luu, who dove for a loose ball and scrambled for possession after a Langley mishap. The buzzer rang, whistles blew, Luu was signaling he had called timeout, the crowd was screaming—complete pandemonium.

The final call ended up being that Luu had secured possession and was fouled with 1.5 seconds on the clock. Being in the bonus, McLean was given the chance to put the nail in the coffin. Luu made his first free throw, but like Fimbres, wasn’t able to sink the second.

Langley had possession, a second and a half to work with and a dream. Unfortunately for the Saxons, though, the Highlanders ran the town that night. A deep three was contested and ended up missing, and as the buzzer declared the 65-63 victory, McLean’s bench and student section popped off in unison, followed by a court rush and a large, jumping crowd gathering to celebrate the rivalry win.

The Highlanders will take the court again on Friday, Jan. 27, when they will face off against Wakefield on the road.