By Curtis Atkinson
Harrisonburg (March 6, 2016) — Many teams would’ve given up. Loudoun Valley didn’t. Many teams would’ve quit. Loudoun Valley didn’t. On a night when very little went right for the Vikings, they battled to the very end.
The Loudoun Valley High School boys basketball team suffered through an untimely bad shooting performance — going 3-for-20 from 3-point range — and were uncharacteristically sloppy with the basketball — with 15 turnovers. However, grinding through on pure effort, the Vikings had a chance late.
Loudoun Valley guard Jordan Miller corralled his fourth offensive rebound on the night and was fouled going back up, sending the all-everything super sophomore to the line looking to add to his game-high 21 points with the Vikings down two and 0.8 left on the clock. There’s no one else the Vikes would have rather had on the line, but after playing every minute of an up-and-down game against an athletic Monacan High School squad, Miller left the free throw just short, and the Vikings fell to the Chiefs, 57-55; their undefeated season coming to a jarring and disappointing end at 26-1.
The nerves of playing in a VHSL 4A state quarterfinal game showed early, as the Vikings had four first quarter turnovers that led to eight fast break points for the Chiefs, including a pair of soaring dunks that had Monacan rolling. Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson thought his team had a tough time adjusting to the stage and the night’s opponent.
“We had a little trouble adjusting to the speed,” Dawson said. “Monacan’s very aggressive and very quick.”
The Chiefs extended their zone a little further than Valley expected, getting deflections and steals early. Miller was able to overcome Monacan’s length and quickness to score 11 of the Vikings’ 13 first quarter points and keep the Vikings in range.
“He single-handedly kept us in the game in the first quarter,” Dawson said. “He was the best player in the gym tonight: very smooth, very fluid, very special kid.”
Valley would trail by as many as twelve in the first half, getting behind the Chiefs but being far from giving up.
“Once we settled down, we had dug ourselves a pretty big hole,” Dawson said. “But I’m very proud of our kids for battling back.”
The Vikings continued to chip away at the Chiefs’ lead throughout the second half, fighting against poor shooting performances from most of their lineup. Senior Trey McDyre — who was unknowingly playing his last game after playing four years of varsity basketball for the Vikings — steadied Valley yet again.
“It was a special year for us,” McDyre said. “It was a great season. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but we aren’t going to throw away what we did do, because 26-1 is pretty impressive.”
Unfortunately in the end, their pursuit of perfection fell just short. In the press room after the game, it would’ve been difficult not to notice the changing of the guard that was occurring as McDyre handed the torch to Miller and the other young Vikings.
“Trey is the epitome of Viking basketball with over 85 wins in his career,” Dawson said. “If [Miller] learns to play like [McDyre], he’ll be one of the best in the state. I think he’s going to lead us to a lot of big places.”
Valley won’t look to go anywhere but up next season, when they return the bulk of their scoring. In addition to Miller, the Vikings will return Conference 21B Player of the Year Nick Ball, all-Conference 21B first teamer Jalen Williams, gritty forward Jamir Degree and sharpshooter Dom Peterson.
Dawson will be back and looking to get over the state quarterfinal hump that has become a thorn in Valley’s side.
Looking ahead to next season, Dawson could simply say, “The future is going to be really bright with that group.”
Monacan Chiefs Stats per Legit Sport Stats
Wallace Washington 18 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 1 blocked shot, 8-for-12 free throws
Nick Parks 16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1-for-2 free throws
Trejvon McFail 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot
Darian Peterson 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot
Gregory Parham 6 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot
Kwame Asiedu 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 blocked shot, 2-for-2 free throws
Garrett Oguich 1 assist, 1 steal
57 points, 24 rebounds, 16 assists, 14 turnovers, 11 steals, 5 blocked shots, 11-for-16 free throws
Loudoun Valley Vikings Stats per Legit Sport Stats
Jordan Miller 21 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1-for-3 free throws
Trey McDyre 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4-for-4 free throws
Nick Ball 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 blocked shot, 4-for-4 free throws
Jamir Degree 5 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 3-for-4 free throws
Jalen Williams 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Dom Peterson 3 points, 1 rebound
Jason Yoxthimer 1 steal, 0-for-2 free throws
55 points, 30 rebounds, 11 assists, 15 turnovers, 3 steals, 1 blocked shots, 12-for-17 free throws