Saturday, March 01, 2008

Northern Region Semifinals

Langley's Support System Delivers
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, March 1, 2008; E07

Following one of the worst shooting performances of his career, Langley senior guard Ryan Davenport sat in the Saxons' locker room at George Mason University's Patriot Center, pulling his sweat-soaked jersey over the bridge of his nose.

As the jersey fell from his chin, an uncontrollable smile was revealed.

Davenport was 3-for-13 shooting with a team-low seven points in Langley's 46-38 Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinal victory over Madison last night. But he was happy to take a secondary role if it meant his team could continue making school history.

"We all knew these guys could do it and had the potential to do it, but to see it on the court was wonderful," Davenport said after No. 11 Langley had earned its first Northern Region tournament championship game berth.

The victory also ensured Langley a berth in the Virginia AAA boys' basketball tournament for the first time.

In tonight's regional tournament final, Langley (24-4) will face No. 3 T.C. Williams (25-3) -- a 50-37 winner over No. 12 Lake Braddock (17-9) in last night's other semifinal.

Langley senior forward Ahmed Malik (11 points), junior guard Derek Baker (10 points), sophomore guard Thomas Kody (10 points) and senior guard Barrett Hunter (eight points) kept Langley afloat as Davenport went scoreless in the first half. The foursome then combined for 23 points as the Saxons went on a game-clinching 30-19 second-half run.

"I practice against these guys every day, and Derek will drain shots in my face and Malik, you can't really stop him," said Davenport, who became Langley's career scoring leader earlier this season. "It was always there. It was just a matter of confidence and making it happen on the court."

Baker had three blocks and scored four of his 10 points during a 16-5 third-quarter run that helped Langley battle back from a 19-16 halftime deficit.

"When we play those tough teams, we know we have to step up because we know [Davenport] can't beat them by himself," said Baker, a 6-foot-4 O'Connell transfer.

Madison (20-7) was led by Collin Flaherty's 10 points.

"If you told me before the game that [Davenport] would score seven points and we'd win, I'd say 'No,' " Langley Coach Travis Hess said.

In the third quarter, Madison went scoreless for 4 minutes 43 seconds, had five turnovers and hit just two shots.

The Warhawks were 2 of 14 from the three-point line as they fell to Langley for the third time in four meetings this season.

"They knew us and they were prepared for us," Madison Coach Chris Kuhblank said.
In last night's other semifinal, four Titans scored in double figures as T.C. Williams advanced to its second consecutive Northern Region championship game.

"We wore them down," said Titans Coach Ivan Thomas. "That was the plan."

Edward Jenkins (18 points), Travis Berry (10), Joshua Jordan (10) and Anthony Winbush (12 points) each reached double figures as the Titans overcame Lake Braddock's slow-down approach.

No. 11 Langley 46 Madison 38 No. 3 T.C. Williams 50 No. 12 Lake Braddock 37

Tournament Titans: T.C. Williams is seeking its eighth region championship. The Titans have won titles in 2007, 2001, 1983, 1982, 1980, 1977 and 1975.

14 Years Later: The last time Langley defeated T.C. Williams in the Northern Region tournament was in 1994, when the Saxons handed the 14th-ranked Titans a 63-58 loss in the quarterfinals. Langley was the fourth-seed out of what was then called the Great Falls District.

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