Purcellville, Va. — Spring sports kicked off in Loudoun on February 20. And while student-athletes began practice in the unusually warm February outdoors, the Loudoun Valley High School Vikings basketball team hosted what looked like an indoor track meet with the Charlottesville Black Knights in a VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal game.
The Vikings have run teams out of the gym all season but on this night, they found a Charlottesville team willing and able to run with them.
Valley sprinted out to an early lead, held off a few strong challenges from the Black Knights and pulled away at the end to win 84-72 and clinch a berth to the VHSL 4A state playoffs, yet again.
The Vikings faced a stout Charlottesville team and entered the fourth quarter on the wrong end of the scoreboard for the first time all season. Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson thought his team’s ability to battle back bodes well for the road ahead.
“That shows resolve,” Dawson said. “The defensive intensity needed to pick up and we were willing to do that.”
— Doug Johnson (@DougJohnson45) February 21, 2017
On offense, the Vikings were led yet again by their star junior Jordan Miller, who had a career-high 36 points coming off the bench after missing a couple practices due to sickness earlier in the week. Miller wasted no time, scoring eight points in the first quarter and opening the second quarter on a personal 7-0 run to get Valley out to a 32-20 lead.
Miller felt his early scoring provided a little challenge to his fellow teammates.
“We didn’t start off too strong so it provided a spark to come off the bench and score like that,” Miller said.
After Valley opened up its biggest lead of the game, Charlottesville closed the half on an 18-6 run to go into half tied at 38.
Valley powered ahead in the third quarter, taking a 49-42 lead when senior Nick Ball made a layup to become the sixth player in school history to top 1,000 career points. It’s been a milestone that has been looming on the horizon for Ball the past couple weeks, and he’s glad to have it done and able to focus on the playoff run.
“It’s definitely good to have it in the past,” Ball said with a smile. “Don’t need to press moving forward.”
Despite trailing at the end of the third, Valley showed again why they are the top seed in the region. Seniors Duron Norris and Jamir Degree pounded the glass for Loudoun Valley.
“Jamir is such a special player,” Dawson. “He stepped up big. He’s an undersized power forward but he played like he was 6-foot-8 tonight, especially down the stretch.”
And down the stretch, the Vikings added a whole lot more excitement to their region quarterfinal win, throwing over the Black Knights’ press for a couple huge dunks from Miller and a clutch three-point play from Norris, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Conference 21B champion Loudoun Valley will host Conference 24 champion William Fleming in a VHSL 4A West region semifinal on February 22 in Purcellville.
Last season, the Vikings ended the Colonel’s season in a region quarterfinal behind 20 and 17 points from Miller and Ball, respectively. They’ll look to top Fleming again on February 22 to move on in their quest for a second straight region crown.