Aldie, Va. — After dropping their first two games of the season, the Loudoun County Captains turned up the defensive pressure and earned their first win of their 2020-2021 campaign against first-year Lightridge, 73-30, on December 29 in Aldie.
“The way this season is set up, it’s a shorter season, so we’ve have to learn from those early losses,” Loudoun County head coach Mark Alexander said. “We’re doing the same stuff, just trying to get our confidence up. We’ve got some new guys in some new spots, and they just need to find confidence in what they’re doing.”
Loudoun County used their extremely athletic lineup to quickly jump out to an early first-quarter lead, with a suffocating zone defense.
All their height and athleticism on defense is anchored by 6-foot-7 senior center Nate Brown. Brown is an extremely versatile player and has plus agility and speed for someone of his size. Defensively, he works perfectly in the Captains’ defensive system, and it was evident that he was going to be a problem for the younger, smaller Lightridge team. Brown’s presence in the middle allowed the Captain’s guards to press the ball as soon as the ball crossed half court, really testing Lightridge’s ball handlers.
The Captains found a lot of their points in the first half off of turnovers, controlling the tempo and really making the Lightning pay on the fast break, taking a 45-20 lead into the half.
Despite trailing by 25 at the half, Lightridge’s possessions continued to get better as the game went on, a positive sign for a first year school with no senior class.
“Every game that we’re playing is a learning experience,” Lightridge head coach Brian Washington said. “I want the guys to understand that they have to play through the adversity.”
The young Lightning were led by sophomore forward Cole Lechner, who finished with a team-high 14 points. Freshman forward Rishab Katikanani chipped in 5 points.
“I know what he’s going through,” said Alexander, of the Lightning’s inaugural season. “It’s tough. They’ll get there. Coach Washington knows what he’s doing.”
The Captains maintained their lead throughout the game, continuing to disrupt the Lightning’s offensive rhythm while creating easy fast break points. The experience and game planning of the Captains gave them a significant edge, and it showed in the final score.
“The kids want to come in and they want to produce immediately, but it takes time,” Washington said. “They are starting to listen to me, and they’re starting to see the things I’m telling them out on the court.”
Lightridge (0-0, 0-2) will look to earn the program’s first ever win when they travel to Independence, while Loudoun County (0-0, 1-2) will look to ride the winning wave into Loudoun Valley. Both games are scheduled for December 30.
“With very little prep time, I’m just going to tell them to keep trying to improve,” Alexander said. “We just have to do what we do and try to be physical and play as hard as you can.”