Purcellville, Va. — In a rematch of last year’s Dulles District championship game, the Loudoun County boy basketball team showed it’s still the top dog in this rivalry, defeating the Loudoun Valley Vikings, 57-41 on December 30 in Purcellville.
“Today, I thought we really bought in to playing better defense and rebounding better,” Loudoun County head coach Mark Alexander said. “I want this team to be better every game, and so far I think we’ve done that.”
The Captains took an early lead in the first quarter as senior guard Caleb Rexroad scored 6 of the Captains’ first 12 points.
“Caleb always brings great leadership and sets an example of how to play,” Alexander said. “He’s been with us on varsity for three years and he knows what it takes to be a hard-nosed player.”
A key matchup as this game developed was the Captains’ 6-foot-7 center Nate Brown against the Vikings’ 6-foot-7 center Benjamin Hall. Hall established his presence in the paint with countless blocks and shot contests, and it forced Brown out of the paint, something Alexander said he is comfortable with Brown doing.
“Some of the stuff we run gets him away from the basket,” Alexander said. “He’s improved his perimeter game, and he’s a great passer, so I like the fact that we can get him away from the basket and he can make some good things happen.”
Brown finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The story of this game, however, was a huge game from Captains junior forward George Mwesigwa in his second ever varsity start.
Much of the Vikings interior defense was focused on Brown, and Mwesigwa capitalized off of it, finishing with a 21-point, 13-rebound double-double.
“Our focus in the second half shifted more to getting George open looks,” Brown said. “George is a great addition to our team. He’s a great finisher, he rebounds, and he’s a team player.”
Loudoun Valley kept the game competitive through the final whistle, but the Vikings were never able to string together a run to close the Captains’ lead.
“We got to start being able to coach basketball and not effort,” Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson said. “Once we got going, you could see that there’s no quit in our players. We kept competing the whole time, we just got to learn to do that for all four quarters.”
The sharp shooting of Loudoun Valley junior guard John Santmyer was a large part of what kept the Vikings in the game. Santmyer drained 4 three pointers, three coming in the second half, en route to finishing with a team-high 14 points. Loudoun Valley senior forward Chris Zimmot chipped in 9 points.
The Vikings look to pick themselves up against Heritage on January 5 in Leesburg. The Captains will also stick around town to tango with Tuscarora on the same night.
“I’m still finding guys who I think can perform under pressure situations,” Alexander said. “Once we figure that out, I think we can really see what this team’s potential can be.”