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Crystal Langhorne

Sport: Basketball

Born: October 27, 1986

Town: Willingboro

Crystal Allison Langhorne was born October 27, 1986 in Queens and grew up in Willingboro. Crystal’s parents, Juel and Crythen, were both born and raised in Guyana, where every day was a struggle to make ends meet. They married and moved to America, where Crythen got a job with the MTA in New York City. Raising a family in the city proved too expensive, so they relocated to South Jersey and he commuted to his job. That work ethic became embedded in his kids. From the moment she picked up a basketball, Crystal was a tireless worker in practice and a sponge when it came to coaching. Over the years—in high school, college and the pros—Crystal would distinguish herself as an unselfish teammate and earn a reputation as an indestructible player, rarely missing a game.

Crystal played ball against her brothers and their friends, and in pick-up games against men in their 20s and 30s. She also competed for AAU travel teams and attended Willingboro High—famous for [producing Carl Lewis—where she grew into a sleek 6’2” forward. She was a talented scorer and fierce rebounder for the Chimeras and attracted attention from several top college programs after shining in AAU tournaments and all-star games. As a senior in 2004, Crystal was named a WBCA All-American.

Crystal accepted a scholarship from the University of Maryland and became a key starter as a freshman. Crystal played center and averaged 17.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the Terrapins in 2004–05, as the team went 22–10 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The following season, Maryland went 34–4 and Crystal led the team in points and rebounds. The Terrapins got hot and made a magical run in the tourney. They defeated Sacred Heart, St. John’s, Baylor and Utah to reach the Final Four. An 81–70 win over UNC got them to the national championship game, where they met Duke. The Blue Devils nearly blew them out, forging a 10-point lead after 20 minutes and stretching it to 13 in the second half. But Laura Harper led a thrilling comeback and freshman Kristi Tolliver nailed a 3-pinter over Duke’s center, Alison Bales, with time running out to force overtime. Maryland was a perfect 5–0 in overtime games in 2005–06 and they made it 6 with a 78–75 win to claim the women’s team’s first national title. Crystal battled with Bales all game, giving up 5 inches to the Duke center.

Crystal was a consistent scorer and rebounder in her final two seasons at Maryland, finishing as the school record holder with 2,247 career points. In 2008, she was picked 6th in the WNBA draft by the Washington Mystics. After a season coming off the bench, she became the team’s starting power forward in 2009 and won the league’s Most Improved Player award. In 2010, Crystal was voted Second-Team All-WNBA. The Mystics finished first in the East with a 22–12 record, but fell in the opening round of the playoffs. In 2011, injuries and front-office turmoil prevented Washington from building on its momentum. Crystal was the only top player on the floor most nights. She scored a career-high 18.2 points per game and played in the All-Star Game. But it was not a happy season.

After three more productive years in Washington, Crystal was traded to the Seattle Storm. She gave Seattle a much-needed inside presence and set team records with an 8-for-8 shooting performance in a 2016 game and a 9-for-9 game in 2017. In 2018, Crystal accepted a bench role, coming into games when the Storm was losing control of the boards. Her skill and experience contributed to a league-best 26–8 season, which was good for a double-bye to the semifinals. They bounced the Phoenix Mercury in five games and then swept Crystal’s old team, the Mystics, in the finals. Crystal battled against towering Brittney Griner in the Phoenix series and was the high rebounder in Game 2 with 10.

In 2019, Seattle went into the season without key scorers Sue Bird and Alana Beard. Though still coming off the bench, Crystal assumed more of the scoring load, surprising opponents with her outside shooting ability. The averaged 17 minutes a game and 5.6 points and 3.0 rebounds. The Storm went 18–16 but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Sparks.

 

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