Herndon senior guard Mackenzie Koch sure didn't show any rust in her first game of the year, riddling South Lakes for 30 points.

Koch returns from injury, scores 30 as Herndon stops South Lakes 69-57

Liberty District rivalry night wasn’t the same without the hype squads, but still had the complete feel of a rivalry game. For Herndon, getting the services of senior guard Mackenzie Koch back helped the Hornets pick up their first victory of the season, 69-57.

Koch had missed the Hornets’ first three games due to an ankle injury. She definitely made her presence known, dropping 30 points, including four threes, which ignited a hot shooting night all-around for Herndon (1-0, 1-3).

A tough schedule early on, Herndon had faced Oakton, Chantilly, and Westfield respectively, all tough, competitive losses.

“Her being out there helped us out tremendously.” said Herndon Head Coach Mike Wills. “We needed her. She’s the energy bunny.”

The host Seahawks still led at halftime by two, despite being outscored in the second quarter 23-17. After slowly shaving points off the lead in the second, Herndon opened the third on a run to take the lead. They led comfortably the rest of the game, powered by junior Jailyn Alston and senior Alexis Kuhlman who both cashed in twice from beyond the arc in the quarter. A combination of hot shooting and defense led to the Hornets’ charge–all stemming from Koch.

“It’s her energy. And leadership. We started out a little shaky, with throwing her back into the starting lineup. I just threw her into the fire, and it helped,” Coach Wills added.

The Seahawks (0-1, 1-4) were led again by senior Brianna Scott with 25 points. South Lakes had shaken up the starting lineup for their senior night, but started sophomore Jessica Dornak in the second half. She contributed nine points on the night and was a solid presence inside, grabbing several boards alongside Scott. They will look to close out a tough week on Friday against Langley at home.

Now, the Hornets are poised to look forward. “We have to springboard, we gotta use this for the next game, and the next game. We were 0-3. We didn’t look at our record. We’re trying to win the conference and get the number one seed,” said Coach Wills. They will face Washington-Liberty on Friday at home.

With Herndon and South Lakes still in the same district, the Seahawks will get their chance at revenge on January 22nd, in the Hornets’ brand new gymnasium.

–Max Nagle