Sunday, February 24, 2008

Langley Basketball

Malik Powers Langley to Title
Senior Forward Has Double-Double
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 24, 2008; D13

As his teammates cut down the net following a 55-34 victory over McLean in last night's Virginia AAA Liberty District tournament final, Langley senior Ahmed Malik peered over his right shoulder and smirked at his biceps.

"I'm still skinny," said Malik, a senior forward who had 17 points and 10 rebounds to give the Saxons their first district title since 2003 in front of 2,200 at South Lakes.

In the girls' final, Madison beat Langley, 46-32.

Malik added 15 pounds through an intense workout regimen this summer and joined an offseason AAU team for the first time in his high school career.

The 6-foot-5 senior "picked a good night to have one of his best games of the season," Langley Coach Travis Hess said.

"Tonight made everything you do in the offseason worth it," said Malik, who showed off his improvement through a diverse body of work in the third quarter.

He hit a deep three-pointer, took a charge on the ensuing McLean possession and finished a strong post move with 3 minutes 54 seconds left in the quarter to give the Saxons a 32-14 lead.

"I owe a lot of my offense to [Malik] because he's a great screener, and he rolls so well that he's a threat any time," said Langley senior Ryan Davenport (16 points), one of four Langley guards who thrived outside as Malik owned the inside.

Langley (21-4) won its fourth straight and ended the fifth-seeded Highlanders' run of upsets.

That included victories over South Lakes (17-6) and Woodson (18-6), perennial powers that have combined for five district championships since 2000 and won three of the last five Liberty District titles.

McLean fell to 14-11.

"It's kind of surreal right now," Hess said. "This is what we've been working for for three years."

In the girls' game, after picking up her fourth foul with 4:08 left in the third quarter, Madison's Marygrace Jay played with a cautious vigor, scoring eight of her team-high 16 points during a 17-3 fourth-quarter run that lifted the Warhawks.

"In the championship game, in the last quarter, the one thing you don't want to be doing is playing with caution," said Jay, a 6-foot-3 forward bound for Holy Cross who sparked Madison (24-1) to its 24th straight victory and first Liberty District title since 2004.

AAA Liberty Basketball Finals Boys' Up Next: Langley will host Stuart (15-8), and McLean will travel to Mount Vernon (15-8) in the first round of tomorrow's region tournament.

Girls' Up Next: Madison will host Washington-Lee (6-18), and Langley (14-10) will host Yorktown (18-6) in the first round of tomorrow's region tournament.

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