Warhawks boys, Saxons girls claim region championships
MADISON 62, W.T. WOODSON 58
A long local season ended Saturday night in Fairfax with two teams that knew one another well preying off weaknesses and surprising a full gymnasium at Robinson Secondary School.
W.T. Woodson sharpshooter Jason Aigner drilled a three-pointer from the volleyball line. Madison guard Sam Kidd knew he had that kind of range. So he jumped the pass from the top of the Warhawks’ zone defense the next time Aigner ran out there, then beat it downcourt and banked in a layup that iced Madison’s first 6A North region championship. The Warhawks pulled out a 62-58 victory to continue their spirited postseason run.
“We knew where they were going to go,” Kidd said.
The same can’t be said for the direction of Madison’s season at the midpoint. The Warhawks (23-6) started slowly, then ripped off 10 straight wins. They lost three of four in mid-January and now enter the state tournament having won 12 of their past 13.
This was never a team struggling to find its identity, Coach Kevin Roller said. They are not basketball junkies. They are not super athletes.
“But the hell if we play so damn hard,” he said.
Madison jumped out to a seven-point lead on a layup from senior guard Johnny Corish, the tournament’s MVP, to end the first quarter. He buried another three to end the third, then found classmate Nick Conforti while hanging in the air under the rim for an open layup.
The basket put Madison up by 11, its largest lead of the game.
“I’ve been playing with him all year,” senior guard Daniel Gerke said of Corish, “and I still don’t know how he does it.”
Corish finished with 19 points. Aigner led all scorers with 23 points for Woodson (23-6).
Both teams will be back at Robinson on Friday for the state quarterfinals, along with West Potomac and Herndon. The Wolverines topped the Hornets in the region consolation game, 76-53.
Langley girls lock it down
It was a matter of time, Langley Coach Amanda Baker told her team, until its offense would kick in. Until then, keep playing defense, forcing turnovers and rebounding.
Repeat the mantra, senior forward Elizabeth Bucy said — “Stop, score,” the Saxons say out loud at every change of possession — even as Battlefield turned a twopoint game into four, then seven, then nine in the second half.
And then junior guard Jordyn Callaghan drained a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter to tie it up. Langley’s offense came all at once afterward in a 45-41 victory in the Virginia 6A North region title game.
“That was the moment we had to strike,” said Callaghan, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “We knew we could win it.”
Bucy fed her the ball on a drive to the basket and kick-out, a rarity against the Bobcats (19-7), whose pack-line defense mirrors the Saxons’. It was the kind of front Langley (24-4) struggled against early on. It drains the life out of opposing offenses and slows the game’s tempo down to a methodical stomp.
“They gave us a taste of our own medicine,” Baker said.
But a drive to the hoop — an ounce of daylight — opens things up.
“She was in the clear, wide open,” Bucy said of Callaghan. “She hit it, and that’s exactly what we needed.”
The Saxons started an 11-0 run that opened up an eight-point lead, off a Bucy putback and foul shot and another free throw from senior point guard Rachel Dunie. Battlefield clawed back within a point with 30 seconds to play on Marley McLaughlin’s layup while being fouled, but Bucy (eight points, 10 rebounds) grabbed the ensuing rebound.
Above left, Madison defeated W.T. Woodson for the school’s first 6A North boys’ region championship Saturday night. Above right, Jordyn Callaghan (21 points) of Langley cuts down the net.