Boys basketball muscle their way into district semifinals

Aggressive play helps Highlanders topple Patriots in key post-season match

A swarm of Highlanders clad in white flooded the bleachers of McLean’s basketball court on Feb. 13 as McLean battled Yorktown in the first round of the Liberty District playoffs. The winner guaranteed themselves a spot in the regional playoffs, as well as the chance to face Marshall in the district’s semifinals.

The game proved to be one characterized by aggression and scraps for loose balls; McLean managed to outmaneuver the Patriots early on, crashing the boards on every possession and diving for rebounds at any given moment. Their physical play was rewarded, as McLean exited the fourth quarter with a 20-13 lead.

However, with physicality comes fouls, and unfortunately for the home team, foul trouble plagued them early. Yorktown entered the bonus early on, giving the Patriots plenty of trips to the charity line throughout the second quarter. Still, McLean’s offense stayed ignited, making good use of quick cuts and back and forth passes to free themselves up for opportunities. Despite the foul problems, the Highlanders maintained a 41-32 lead as the half ended.

Halftime didn’t kill either team’s momentum—if anything, the break gave them more energy to bash heads with as they returned to the court. Fouls continued to rain in, but this time, Yorktown found themselves on the receiving end of the calls, much to the frustration of their student section. Still, the Patriots continued picking up steam as the third quarter closed out, keeping them in the game as they trailed 62-56.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, they couldn’t overcome their fouling problems. As McLean entered the bonus, they were given consistent opportunities at the free throw line, and Yorktown’s rowdy student section wasn’t enough to rattle the Highlanders’ composure at the line. Though they fought hard, Yorktown wasn’t able to prevail; McLean ended the night with an 86-71 victory and a spot in regionals clinched.

McLean will hit the road on Feb. 15 to challenge top seed Marshall on their home turf in their semifinal clash, with the potential of facing hometown rivals Langley in the championship game if they emerge victorious.