Her shot as time expired lifted the Saxons to a 56-54 overtime win and to their second state final appearance in three years.
Even though Langley mounted comeback after comeback throughout the game at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, the Saxons trailed by one when the Titans missed a free throw with 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime.
T.C. Williams held a height advantage over Langley, an edge that only grew after the Saxons’ starting forwards, Rana Azad and Hailey Chapman, fouled out. But Langley senior guard Carly Britt managed to come away with the pivotal rebound and streak up the court, where she found Callaghan open behind the arc.
“Before that play, one of my teammates told me, ‘Muscle memory,’ ” Callaghan said. “I’ve been shooting the ball since I was in second grade, so I just trusted my form.”
A four-year starter and the leading scorer for the Saxons, Callaghan scored a game-high 21 points.
The Titans held Callaghan and the rest of her team in check into the second quarter, but the Saxons rallied from a 12-point deficit. They closed the first half on a 15-4 run and trailed 24-23 at halftime.
Langley kept pace through a back-and-forth second half but trailed by two with 5.3 seconds left in regulation. That’s when junior guard Lauren Maloney drew a foul and made two free throws to send the game to overtime.
With the victory, Langley advanced to the state championship matchup with Cosby at 6 p.m. Thursday at Siegel Center in Richmond. In the Saxons’ first state final appearance in 2016, they lost, 42-37, to Cosby.
“We didn’t get business done my sophomore year, so hopefully we can get business done this year,” Callaghan said.
Edison prevails this time
On Feb. 23, the Edison Eagles couldn’t get it done against Freedom-South Riding. In the Virginia Class 5 Region C championship game, Freedom led almost all the way in its 10-point victory.
But Tuesday, Edison got another shot at Freedom in the Class 5 state semifinals. Edison made it count, using its signature full-court press to build and sustain a lead for much of a 49-32 win at Champe High School.
“We really studied that first game, came up with a different game plan on defense,” Coach Dianne Lewis said. “And we pressed. If something is working, why stop doing it?”
Junior forward Carole Miller helped Edison start fast, scoring 13 points in the first half.
With the victory, Edison secured a date with Virginia Beach power Princess Anne in the state championship game at 2 p.m. Thursday in Richmond.
“They’re a dominant program, but we’re excited to go down there and play basketball and do our thing,” Lewis said.