Purcellville, Va. — Trent Dawson doesn’t care that you’re booing him. He doesn’t care that you think he’s overrated. He doesn’t care that he’s missed his last three shots or that his first half was subpar by any standards and especially his own. All he cares about is winning, and that’s what he did as he led his Loudoun Valley boys basketball team to an electric, 60-57, win over the Dominion Titans in a Dulles District semifinal that earned the Vikings a berth into the VHSL Region 4C tournament.
The senior point guard had a subpar first half against the Titans, scoring just five points on just one made field goal. His team was down three as they went into the locker room, and he knew he needed to make a change.
“This was probably gonna be our last home game, and I was just not going to allow us to lose,” Dawson said. “I was going to do everything I could to win.”
With just 4.2 seconds left in the third quarter and the score now tied, Dawson took an inbounds pass and shot a deep three-pointer with a defender right in his face, punctuating a 12-point quarter.
When they tell Trent Dawson’s story in the annals of Loudoun County basketball history, it might as well start with that third quarter, a star-making sequence in one of the biggest moments. He had the courage to take the shots nobody else would and make the shots nobody else could.
If there was one blemish on Dawson’s night, it’ll be his late-game free throw shooting. With Loudoun Valley up two and at the line with a chance to ice the game, he missed both parts of a double bonus trip to the line On the ensuing rebound, Dominion senior guard Max Mancuso received the outlet pass and headed up-court where he was met by two Loudoun Valley defenders.
Mancuso’s pass ahead to a fellow Titan was too far to the right, sailing out of bounds and the ensuing intentional foul sent Dawson to the line again. He made one out of two free-throws, and the Dominion heave following the second free throw attempt was short as the Vikings rejoiced.
“It was just frustrating because you know, he’s such a good free throw shooter, and he’s a pressure free throw shooter over his career,” Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson said. “Hopefully it’s a learning experience moving forward.”
Trent Dawson didn’t do it all alone, as the Loudoun Valley supporting cast was led by fellow senior guard Zion Ball. The transfer self-admittedly had struggled in his transition to the Vikings, but against Dominion he was lights-out, shooting 10 three-pointers and making 6 to give him 18 points.
“You can call it a rough [start]because that’s the way it’s been just to be real about it,” Ball said. “I just had to believe in myself, my coaches, my staff, my teammates, they all helped me get back into the flow of things.”
He had high praise for Dawson as well.
“He’s definitely our guy. It’s definitely a fun experience playing with him,” Ball said. “Being a shooter and having a great point guard that always sees you in the corners helps you play your game in your style. It’s definitely been a pleasure to play with him.”
The Vikings will have their toughest matchup of the season coming up on February 21, as they’ll travel to Loudoun County to take on Matt Anderson and the Raiders for the Dulles District title. In their two regular season matchups, the Raiders got the better of the Vikings: 54-46 then 54-45.
“It’s our fifth straight region appearance, so we’re hoping to make some noise,” Coach Dawson said. “We want to be playing our best basketball. I think we’re starting to do that.”