An enticing matchup last night between McLean and Herndon didn't quite live up to the promise of two of the top girls teams in the Great Falls District.
Both teams struggled offensively for most of the evening but McLean, behind 26 points from Barbara King, prevailed, 49-33, at Herndon.
The win secured second place in the district for the Highlanders (15-3, 9-1), 2 1/2 games ahead of the No. 15 Hornets (13-4, 6-3).
"It was a very sloppy game but a lot of that had to do with both teams knowing each other well," McLean Coach Fred Priester said. "We knew what the other was trying to accomplish."
In a game in which neither offense got untracked, King was the lone productive player. The senior guard ignited the Highlanders from the start, making up more than half of her team's offense.
King also led the Highlanders with 18 points in the teams' first meeting of the season, a 50-42 McLean win on Jan. 15.
"We didn't have any one player that could stop her," Hornets Coach Laura Beaver said. "Barbara's a good player. She really has beaten us both times."
The teams looked sloppy in the early going and that trend persisted throughout the half. McLean took advantage of Herndon's offensive trouble by grabbing a 6-0 lead with two layins from King and a backdoor play to Margot Menninger.
That proved to be the only points of the game for Menninger, who went down into a scramble for a loose ball 54 seconds later, reinjuring the knee that had kept her sidelined most of the season.
Herndon regrouped and drew even at 8-8 with 1:25 left in the first quarter on a baseline drive from senior Becky Dendler, and was tied at 11 with 2:45 to go in the half.
The Highlanders put together a 12-2 spurt that extended into the second half to move ahead, 23-13, with 17:11 to play as Mclean was able to move inside for some easy points. Meanwhile, Herndon, which was paced by 12 points from Dendler, had problems getting its transition game in gear.
"My game plan was to push the ball upcourt and I don't know how many layups we missed," said Beaver. "We took ourselves out of the game by not thinking."
McLean led by 13 points in the third quarter with the offensive sparks coming from King, who had 17 in the second half. The Hornets pulled within 40-31 with 4:31 to play but they would draw no closer.