McLean senior center Maia Lee suffered a laceration on her forehead during the third quarter of Wednesday night’s showdown against South Lakes, requiring her to come out of the game and receive medical attention for several minutes. She returned near the end of the quarter with a bandage on the cut, but it only helped so much. She continued to take a bruising against the Seahawks’ talented and physical front court, including a hard foul to the side of her head after fighting for a rebound in the fourth quarter.
“It was definitely a physical game because we needed to get them out of their mind-set,” Lee said.
It was all part of the plan. The 6-foot-3 Lee scored nine points and played terrific defense and guards Cami Prock and Jess Monroe scored 15 points apiece to help the Highlanders upset No. 6 South Lakes, 48-44, in Conference 6 play in McLean.
Wednesday marked the first area loss of the season for the Seahawks (15-2, 1-1), who looked as if they were going to roll after outscoring McLean 8-2 in the first quarter.
“We always start out slow. It’s nothing new,” Monroe said. “It takes a little bit to kick in.”
The Highlanders (16-1, 2-0) were lifted by Monroe, who came off the bench and sparked her team in the second quarter. The sophomore guard scored six points in the frame to key a 12-0 run and added six more in the third quarter to help her team take a 32-25 lead into the fourth.
“I started starting at the beginning of the season. . . . Now I’m coming off the bench as the sixth man,” Monroe said. “So I guess that kind of helped my confidence.”
Still, South Lakes remained in striking distance thanks to 6-4 senior post Abigail Rendle, who scored all of her 15 points in the second half, and 6-1 junior power forward Princess Aghayere, who finished with 10 points. Aghayere’s turnaround jumper pulled South Lakes within 40-38 at the two minute mark, but the Seahawks came up empty on the next three offensive possessions, and McLean pulled away by making five of six free throws.
After the win, the Highlanders shot through the gym doors and into the school hallways, screaming as they ran up to McLean’s smaller auxiliary gym. A photographer was there on a ladder, waiting for the giddy girls. He snapped photos of the team holding a golden trophy, known as the Rotary Cup, for its sweep of rival Langley earlier this season. Lee had taken off her bandage by that point and smiled for the pictures.
“I knew I had to work hard for everything I got,” Lee said. “Today was a team win.”