McLean’s girls’ basketball team is making noise in the Liberty District

January 11, 2013

McLean girls tied for first place in the Virginia AAA Liberty District? Must be soccer season. The Highlanders have three of the past four Liberty girls’ soccer titles.

This time, however, it’s the girls’ basketball team — without a district championship since 1977 — atop the standings. One of the main reasons is that instead of having a roster full of girls awaiting soccer season, McLean has committed basketball players who have spurred a 10-game winning streak, including a 58-37 home victory Friday night over Fairfax.

Those two teams, as well as No. 19 South Lakes and Madison, entered the evening each with one district loss.

“We definitely thought that this team could be one of the top teams in the district,” McLean junior point guard Elena Karakozoff said. “That’s our goal and that’s what we’re expecting of ourselves.”

The win streak, which included the Pohanka Chantilly Classic championship, has followed three consecutive losses to teams that entered Friday with a 32-8 record.

“I’ve had great kids every year I’ve been here. They work hard,” ninth-year McLean Coach Mike O’Brien said. “But it is a little nice to have kids that actually do have a basketball-first mentality and [basketball season] means something more than getting in shape for soccer season.”

Fairfax (9-5, 4-2) played without leading scorer Kylie Murphree, a junior point guard, who injured her ankle in a game Tuesday. She averages 14 points and five steals a game and leads the team in assists. “We lose a lot when she’s out,” Fairfax Coach Marcus Konde said. Sophomore forward Jessica Daguilh led the Rebels with 15 points.

Senior guard Shellie Kaniut led McLean (11-3, 5-1) with 15 points, including three three-pointers in the first half. Senior forward Lisa Murphy scored all 12 of her points in the second half.

“We’ve always been like a middle-of-the-pack team, a team that never was really considered great, was never considered terrible,” Murphy said. “It was just kind of like, oh, McLean.

“I don’t think I could ever know that we were going to be this good. I mean, I hoped for it, but now that it’s becoming a reality, it’s really exciting.”

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