Playing with their first losing streak since Dec. 15, 2018, the Highland Hawks responded Friday with a 70-44 victory over Fredericksburg Christian’s girls basketball team at home in Warrenton.
The Hawks established dominance early with an 8-0 run to start the first quarter en route to boosting their record to 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the Delaney Athletic Conference after recently suffering their first DAC loss to Seton, 52-49, in overtime Jan. 23.
A non-conference loss followed Tuesday to John Paul the Great, 46-40, but the Hawks played with passion against Fredericksburg after learning of the Jan. 26 unexpected death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who passed away along with his daughter, GiGi, in a helicopter crash.
“Our ladies played inspired basketball this evening as this game [and] the rest of our season will be a tribute to Kobe [and] Gianna Bryant, and the rest of the victims who lost their lives over the weekend,” Highland coach Diana Martinez said. “The energy was contagious and could be felt throughout the gym as our kids battled and played relentlessly with no regrets.”
Highland built a 15-8 lead by the end of the first quarter and entered halftime ahead 27-15. Then the Hawks started the third period on 14-0 run thanks to an intense full-court defensive effort that kept Fredericksburg’s offense from advancing over half court during the opening 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the second half. So Highland entered the fourth period with a 56-28 lead.
“Our 3rd quarter was one of our best outputs so far this year,” Martinez said.
“We strived to scored 81 to honor the great, the late, Kobe Bryant [and] Gigi, but came up a little short,” she said, referencing the 81 points Bryant posted Jan. 22, 2006, to rank second all-time on the NBA’s single-game scoring list. “However, I am very proud of our ladies’ effort, enthusiasm, teamwork, and leadership.”
Highland’s defense amassed 51 deflections, 15 steals and 10 blocks to give the Hawks an 11-game winning streak against Fredericksburg. Megan Kirby led them with five steals in her first game back from an injury, while Gabby Brisbin and McKenzie Andrews had three each.
Mackenzie Cochrane also had seven blocks and Abby Soltys had three.
Offensively, Soltys led Highland with 22 points while Kirby had 14, Catie Leake had 11, Cochrane had nine and McKenzie Andrews had eight. Soltys also had five assists while Brisbin and Kirby had three each with Andrews' seven rebounds and Soltys' six.
Adding five rebounds apiece were Cochrane, Andrews and Brisbin.
Despite a roster of only three swimmers, Highland’s girls placed ninth out of 16 teams Saturday during the VISAA Division II state invitational meet at the Freedom Center in Manassas.
Morgan Malinow, Paris Thornburg and Madisyn Carter combined for six top-seven finishes. Carter finished as the 200-meter individual medley runner-up and placed second in the 100 butterfly. Thornburg added a runner-up finish in the 50 free and she placed third in the 100 breaststroke.
Malinow added seventh-place finishes in the 200 IM and 100 breast, while Jackson Gill represented Highland’s boys team by swimming the 50 free and 100 free in career-best times.