Although McLean began the season 13-0 the Highlanders were without a marquee win on their resume to solidify their fast start.
On Wednesday against sixth-ranked South Lakes, the Highlanders got the win they were searching for in a 48-44 victory that dealt the Seahawks their first area loss this winter.
“We hadn’t experienced a loss and we weren’t thinking about losing ever,” sophomore guard Jess Monroe said. “But we needed [the Madison game] to push us forward and have a win only attitude. That win is huge for us.”
McLean makes it first appearance in the Post Top 20 at No. 17 this week and is tied with Madison (11-7, 3-0) atop Conference 6. The Warhawks routed the Highlanders by 20 points on Jan. 17, but McLean has responded with four straight victories.
“Knowing how much my team needs me and the fact that I’m heading to ODU has forced me to score more this season,” Lee said. “When I shoot and play well it makes the team better. Knowing this year I was the key to the offense has made a difference.”
In the win over South Lakes, Lee was held below 10 points for just the fourth time this season. McLean found scoring from guards Monroe and Cami Prock, who poured in 15 points apiece.
Monroe was in the starting lineup to begin the season, but when Christy Warren returned from injury, Monroe became the Highlanders’ first player off the bench.
“I had a confidence problem, and I wasn’t sure of my role on my team,” Monroe said of her time as a starter. “When I was appointed to sixth man I realized the team needed me, I worked harder and now that I’m coming off bench, I feel like the secret weapon.”
After setting a new career high in scoring against the Seahawks, the 5-foot-8 guard followed with 10 points in a rout of Washington-Lee. Monroe is averaging 11 points per game in her last three outings.
McLean (17-1, 3-0 Conference 6) will end a seven-game home stand with Yorktown Tuesday then hit the road for their final three regular-season games — which includes a rematch at Madison Feb. 11 and a visit to South Lakes on Valentine’s Day.
“They know what it takes to win on the road,” McLean Coach Jen Sobota said. “Madison and Fairfax are tough to play in their gyms, because it’s a bigger venue but we were good on the road last year. We can’t worry about what the other team’s plan is, we need to focus on what we need to do to win.”