It’s not often you talk about shutouts in a high school basketball game, but Friday night Madison delivered one for the ages when it completely stymied Langley in the fourth quarter, leading to a 46-32 win in the 6D Region tournament final at South Lakes.
A thrilling game for three quarters – with the upset-minded Saxons doing all they could to hang with the two-time defending state champions – Langley struggled to even get off shots against a menacing perimeter defense in the final frame.
The Warhawks (24-2) led by just 35-32 after three quarters before breaking open the game while blanking the Saxons in the period. Langley managed long, controlled possessions, but managed only one shot in nearly the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and just four in its entirety.
Meanwhile, Madison converted the turnovers it forced into fast-break baskets, spearheaded by senior guard Grace Arnolie, who worked with her appreciative teammates to finish, dish or deliver put-backs.
Langley (19-5) shot brilliantly from the outside in the first half, connecting on six triples. Senior guards Caitlyn Shumadine swished three of them, rallying her team back from a 10-point, second-quarter deficit.
“In the second half, we focused more on closing out their shooters,” Arnolie said. “In the locker room, we told ourselves, ‘On defense, no fouls, no threes,’ and keep a hand in their faces. [On offense], we relied on all the chemistry and knowledge that we have as a team.
“This was the type of competition you want to see when you are making a postseason run. [Langley] really came out with a lot of intensity.”
Warhawks’ junior forward Sarah Link said, “Our defense was focused on not letting them get to the middle and to force them to the outside or the baseline. After that first half, we did what we always do: look at the second half as if it’s a game that’s starting, 0-0. We take a fresh mindset no matter what the halftime score is.”
Saxons’ senior guard Annabeth Holsinger, who hit two three-pointers of her own, said, “We were a bit tired after playing a close game the night before and we used a lot of our energy tonight playing defense. They have a really good offense and in the second half we struggled to stay with them.”
As for her team’s shooting slump in the second half when her team only hit one three-pointer, Holsinger said, “Your threes can only go in so much.”
Madison coach Kirsten Stone in the second half went with what she called “a quicker lineup inside.”
“We really emphasized getting a hand in their faces on their shots,” Stone said. “We need games like this if we’re going to advance in the state tournament.”
The Warhawks, who earned their third region title in four years, advance along with Langley to next week’s state tournament. Madison will host the loser of Edison-Robinson in the Region 6C Championship today, while Langley will travel to the winner of that game.
“[Saxons’ coach Amanda Baker] does a great job at identifying some of our weaknesses and she did that tonight. But we were able to use our deep bench and keep fresh legs in there in the second half and that made a difference in our transition game.
“Our deep shots were falling tonight, and it took about a half for our kids to figure out how we’re going to score and they did that.”