For a while early this season it looked like Langley, which graduated four major contributors and star Jordyn Callaghan, might be in for a rough time of things after a 1-4 start. Unfortunately for opponents about the region, that no longer looks to be the case.
On Wednesday night the traditional powerhouse rallied at home from double-digits down to defeat Stonewall Jackson, 44-40. It was the third consecutive win for the Saxons, who last week edged Chantilly and surprised #12 Oakton with a 39-24 victory.
“The Oakton game was the first game where our defense really jelled,” Langley coach Amanda Baker said after the game. “Once we tightened up the perimeter defense tonight things started to jell as well.”
Defense was certainly a factor. The Raiders (8-2) scored 15 points in the first quarter but saw their production decrease as the game progressed. Stonewall scored 11 points in the second quarter, eight in the third, and finally six in the fourth. It wasn’t enough.
Early on it looked like Stonewall might polish Langley off, however. The Raiders forced turnovers and got into transition, and Langley struggled to get good looks at the rim. The Saxons clawed back but in the second and third the visitors were able to counter every Langley run. After Langley cut it to 23-21 before halftime, Stonewall guard Hannah Williams drained a three-pointer to give her team a five-point lead at the break. When Langley cut it to two again near the end of the third quarter, Stonewall’s Imani Burke hit a long jumper after a fantastic jab-step to make it 34-30 after three.
Langley was starting to play better but really turned it on in the fourth quarter. Senior Lauren Maloney, the sole returning player to play major minutes from last year’s 21-win team, got to the rim on the drive and from dishes from her teammates. Junior center Marya Mufti was relentless on the boards, and found Maloney on passes twice for lay-ups down the stretch. Freshman point guard Annabeth Holsinger was far more aggressive in the fourth quarter, scoring her first points of the game on a nice drive and next possession delivering an assist to put her team up 40-36 late.
“We just really, really wanted to win,” Holsinger said when asked why her team played so well late. “We had a lot of built-up energy and we were focused–we wanted to keep our streak going.”
The Westfield transfer Williams led Stonewall in both scoring and rebounding (14 points, seven boards). Burke had eight points and freshman Reina Washington contributed seven for the Raiders, who lost only their second game in ten. Incorporating new pieces like Williams and Battlefield transfer Zoe Kanti is taking time, but there’s no doubt the Raiders will emerge as a contender come tournament time.
Langley (4-4) is used to being one of those. On a night where players like Callaghan and other talented alumni filled the stands, the Saxons played like their great teams from previous years. Maloney finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Mufti finsihed with ten points and 14 boards.
Baker, happy to see her team playing well and to see her past players after the game, summed it up from a technical standpoint. “We started to challenge shots a little more late. We found the open man and got a lot of high-quality shots when we needed to.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Kleinknecht 1-2, Maloney 1-5, Holsinger 0-2|
|Threes: Williams 2-3, Kanti 0-2, Burke 0-2, Washington 0-2|