Leesburg, Va. — When the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds match up in the postseason, you expect to see a highly contested matchup. That matchup becomes even more appealing when the teams are crosstown rivals, and when they feature two of the best scorers in all of Loudoun County.
That’s exactly what we got when No. 4 Tuscarora High School hosted No. 5 Heritage High School on February 3 in Leesburg in the first round of the Dulles District tournament. Tuscarora senior guard Jack Clark went shot for shot with Heritage senior guard Max Jannes, but in the end, it was the total team effort by the Huskies that lifted them over the Pride, 75-61.
“We have a lot of momentum coming out of this game. We have a young team, but we’re learning every single game,” said Clark, who is the Huskies’ sole senior. “I think we’re dangerous in the playoffs. We’re playing with passion, and we’re playing with discipline.”
That discipline became evident early in the third quarter. Having picked up two fouls in the first half, Clark drove to the basket, where Heritage senior guard Jeff Johnson, established defensive position and took a textbook charge. On the very next play, the Pride got the ball into Jannes, who head faked before going up, drawing Clark off his feet, picking up the foul.
With 5:17 left in the third, Clark—who led the Huskies with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first half alone—headed to the bench with his fourth foul.
Tuscarora would play the next 5:17 without their leader, and the Huskies rose to the occasion, actually outsourcing the Pride through the remainder of the third quarter, heading into the fourth with a 55-49 lead.
“At the end of the season, us being able to play without our leader speaks well to our team’s growth throughout the year,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Newkirk said.
After playing limited minutes and being held scoreless in the third, Clark continued to dominate the Pride in the fourth adding 7 more points, 2 more rebounds, and 1 last assist to finish with 31 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
“Jack makes us go. We like to think that we’re not a one-trick pony, but we’ve already conceded Jack’s our leader, and we have no problem following him,” Newkirk said. “He understands how to get everyone involved in the play. I don’t want to say he’s indispensable, but he’s very valuable.”
While Clark carried the scoring load for the Huskies, Tuscarora also got a lot of help from the three ball as junior guards Henry Johnson and Richard Rogers hit four apiece to match Clark’s four three-pointers, as the Huskies shot 54% from beyond the arc.
On the other end of the floor, Jannes also hit four threes while picking up 11 boards in his 33-point, 11-rebound double double. Unfortunately, the Pride didn’t see a whole lot of additional support putting the ball in the hoop or cleaning up the glass, and Tuscarora junior forward Sonny Mannino matched Jannes’ double double with a 10-point, 17-rebound double double of his own.
“Sonny’s been rebounding well for us all year long,” Newkirk said. “At halftime, they had an advantage on the offensive glass; they had 6-7 offensive rebounds and scored on all of them. I thought we did a better job limiting their second chance opportunities in the second half, and Sonny had a lot to do with that.”
“The key for the game tomorrow is playing our basketball and doing what we do. We know we can beat them, it’s really more about what we’re doing. We have to play with poise and play our game,” Clark said. “If we shoot like we shot tonight, I don’t think anyone in the district can stop us.”