Arts & Entertainment

A Holiday Title for Highlanders As Statesmen Struggle to Score

MARSHALL HIGH, shown here in an earlier contest against Yorktown, found itself in a second-half scoring drought in the rematch, but still finished the tournament at 2-1. (NEWS-PRESS PHOTO)The McLean High School boys varsity basketball team was hot over the holidays, winning three games in three days to claim the title in its own holiday tournament, the McLean Invitational.

Junior Tarek Ammoury racked up 50 points in that three-day span, including 20 in the tournament opener against Dominion High School. The Highlanders cruised to victory in that contest, winning 61-25 while holding Dominion to single digits in scoring in each of the four quarters.

Also figuring prominently into the scoring was senior James Pascoe with 12 points while senior Pat Tawil and junior Justin Duvarney each added seven for McLean. Pascoe also led McLean on the glass with six rebounds.

The win on Wednesday advanced the Highlanders to a game against Falls Church on Thursday night. The Jaguars kept the game close through the first quarter, but the Highlanders pulled away beginning in the second to coast to a 56-35 victory. For the second-straight game Ammoury led his team in scoring with 14 points to go along with his five assists and six rebounds. Pascoe chipped in with 11 points, while seniors Austin Lastowka and Andrew Lindvall scored nine and eight points respectively.

For the Jaguars, Antonio Harris Jr. led the team with 14 points, while David Acosta added seven in the loss.

That victory pushed McLean into a final matchup with Yorktown, who had earlier won its semi-final game against Marshall, 43-24. The Highlanders leapt out with a 16-7 lead after the first quarter and maintained the nine-point margin heading into halftime. They extended the lead in the third and then held on in the fourth for a 60-48 win. For the third time in three nights Ammoury led the team with 16 points, posting a double-double with his 10 rebounds. Duvarney and Pascoe were right behind him in the scoring column with 13 and 11 points respectively in the title game.

The Falls Church High School Jaguars (4-9) concluded the tournament with a mark of 1-2, prevailing by three over Wooton 48-45 on the tournament’s first day, before falling to Marshall 30-20 on Friday. Against Wooton, David Acosta led the Jags with 19 points, while Gabe Eusebio chipped in with 13. Harris Jr. finished the game with nine points, combining with Acosta to hit six shots from behind the arc. Acosta again led the way with nine points in the low-scoring affair against Marshall.

The Marshall Statesmen wrapped up their tourney run with a mark of 2-1 to up their season record to 4-6 on the season. Marshall started the tournament well, besting Fairfax 52-38 in the opener behind 22 points from Qaiser Ahmed. Nate Whittington continued to show his three-point marksmanship, scoring nine of his 13 points from three-point range.

The opening-round win gave the Statesmen a second-day game against Yorktown and the opportunity to avenge a narrow 62-55 loss to the Patriots earlier the season. Instead, Marshall went ice-cold from the field, finding itself in a collective scoring slump that endured for the remaining games of the tournament and carried over into the team’s Liberty District contest against W.T. Woodson this Tuesday. The Patriots (7-4) got the better of the Statesmen 43-24, holding Marshall to just seven points in the entire second half after trailing 18-17 at the intermission.

The scoring touch eluded the Statesmen again against Falls Church, however Marshall managed to keep the Jaguars to just 20 points in the 30-20 win. Whittington led with 12 points, all from behind the three-point arc. Qaiser Ahmed finished the game with nine for Marshall.

For the third-straight game the Statesmen failed to break 40 points, and Marshall fell to W.T. Woodson Tuesday night as the teams resumed district competition. Ahmed paced the Statesmen with 16 points, while Bryan Whittington and Scott Bugby each scored six.

Conversely, McLean, and particularly Ammoury, stayed hot following the holidays, however it still wasn’t enough to top district power South Lakes. The Seahawks struggled early, but ultimately edged the Highlanders 56-55 Tuesday night. Ammoury nearly posted a triple-double, with 14 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while Austin Lastowka added a career-high 19 in the loss. Duvarney rounded out the McLean double-digit scorers with 12 points.

The Highlanders next face the Madison Warhawks at home this Thursday, while Marshall High School faces Thomas Jefferson in a home game of their own. Falls Church High School hits the road this Thursday for a matchup with Washington-Lee.