Michelle McLaughlin used to be one of the tallest players on the Loudoun Valley High School girls basketball team--as a 5-foot-7 guard. She's happy that is no longer the case.

In Tuesday's season opener against Broad Run, the Vikings also started 5-11 juniors Holly Everhart and Valerie Murphy and 6-0 sophomore Kristen Carlson--and finished with a 55-30 win over the visiting Spartans in a non-district game.

"When I was a sophomore, I was one of the taller players on the team," said McLaughlin, who scored nine points. "Now I'm one of the shorter ones. I've never played on a team this tall before. It's nice. When you put up a shot, you know that they'll be there to rebound, and that they work really hard to rebound the ball. We feel confident down there."

Carmel Keilty, who is in her 11th year as the Loudoun Valley head coach, says that this is the tallest team she has ever had. In addition to the three tall starters, the Vikings have 6-0 junior Sara Scandiffio coming off the bench.

Loudoun Valley built a 14-0 lead to start the game, scoring all of its points inside the paint.

Broad Run, meanwhile, missed its first 14 shots and was unable to grab an offensive rebound in that span.

"All of our girls just go out and play hard," Keilty said. "We tell them that if they do that, good things will happen. Once a team scores the first couple of buckets, that just settles you in. We just pounded it inside."

The Spartans got their first offensive rebound and first basket on the same play, when 5-11 junior Erin Korte grabbed a missed shot by Jessica Gordy (team-high 12 points) and converted a short layup with 1 minute 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

But Broad Run, which has two players who are taller than 5-11, never recovered from the slow start. The Spartans made 14 of 65 shots from the floor (21.5 percent).

"I can accept that we had a bad shooting night," Broad Run Coach John Costello said. "But I can't accept the fact that we had a bad night on defense. I don't think that we should have a bad night on defense. We did, and that put us in a hole early."

Carlson, who played on the junior varsity last year, made the first four shots she attempted in the game. She and Everhart led the Vikings with 12 points apiece. Carlson also blocked five shots; as a team, the Vikings blocked 10 shots.

Note: Tuesday's game was the first meeting between Broad Run and Loudoun Valley since fall 1995. Broad Run moved up to Group AAA the following season and spent three years in the highly competitive Liberty District. The Spartans returned to Group AA this year.

Broad Run (0-1)--Lawlor 1 0-0 2, Gordy 6 0-2 12, Creech 1 1-2 3, Lange 1 1-2 3, Korte 4 0-1 8, Sindoris 0 0-1 0, Kirkham 0 0-1 0, McKinney 1 0-1 2. Totals: 14 2-10 30.

Loudoun Valley (1-0)--Colby 1 2-3 4, Livesay 1 0-0 2, Cash 2 0-0 4, McLaughlin 4 1-5 9, Everhart 5 2-2 12, Giannini 0 2-2 2, Scandiffio 2 2-2 6, Carlson 6 0-0 12, V. Murphy 2 0-4 4. Totals: 23 9-18 55.

Halftime: Loudoun Valley, 28-10.

Three-point goals: None.

CAPTION: Loudoun Valley guard Michelle McLaughlin, handling the ball, said strong rebounding has boosted the team's confidence.