Leesburg, Va. — With just over four minutes left in the first half, the Loudoun Valley High Schools boys basketball team trailed Tuscarora, 17-3. By the end of the third quarter, the Vikings had cut the deficit to 26-24, and with :19.3 left in the game, Loudoun Valley junior guard Brett Zimmet hit a pair of free throws to give his team a 35-34 lead.
After a series of clock-stopping fouls from both teams, Loudoun Valley senior center Ben Hall knocked down a pair of 1-and-1 free throws to give the Vikings the 37-34 lead by which they’d defeat the Huskies on January 18 in Leesburg.
“We’ve started games slowly this year, so we haven’t started so great, but later on we’ve played much better,” Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson said. “I don’t know if it’s our youth that has caused us to start slow at the beginning of the game or what, but there’s definitely no quit in them. We were down the whole game obviously, but we kept fighting.”
Loudoun Valley sophomore guard Jayden Johnson got the scoring started just 23 seconds into the contest and the Vikings led 2-0 for the next 2:28. At that point, Tuscarora senior shooting guard Richard Rogers hit a three pointer and gave the Huskies the lead, which they would hold until there was just 20 seconds left in the game.
Following Rogers’ first three of the night, the Huskies continued to extend their lead as sophomore guard Jordan Hairston hit a triple and Rogers hit another three giving Tuscarora a 15-2 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter was slow for both teams as Tuscarora took a 19-7 lead into the half.
There’s a lot of parity in the district and you see that in the scores and the play. I don’t know if there’s a clear frontrunner, but we certainly would like to be there.
—Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson
Playing from behind, the Vikings’ game plan was simple: attack. Their goal was to get to the free throw line, and while they only attempted 7 free throws on the evening, their aggressive strategy paid off as they made sharp passes to backdoor cutters underneath the basket to work their way out of the 14-point deficit they had found themselves in.
“It was the perfect storm for us, because they played zone, and we couldn’t shoot and were settling for outside shots,” Dawson said. “In the second half, we told our guys we have to get to the free throw line, and we didn’t do that necessarily, but we did get to the basket and got some easier baskets. That gave us a little bit of confidence and helped us take the lid off the rim a little bit.”
By midway through the third quarter, you could feel all the momentum shifting to Loudoun Valley’s side as they had started to find the soft spots in Tuscarora’s zone and the Huskies’ shooters started to go cold. The Vikings have started slowly throughout the season, and they were playing without three of their regular varsity players, so it took them some time to get used to the new personnel.
“We’re missing a couple of kids, so we had to call a couple of kids up from JV,” Dawson said. “We’re young right now, but they played great for us tonight.”
While Joey Danielson and John Hasle provided crucial minutes off the bench for the Vikings, Loudoun Valley relied on the experience of its senior shot blocker to keep themselves in the low-scoring affair. Throughout the night, the Huskies felt the presence of Hall—who finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 blocked shots—and settled for trying to score beyond the arc and by the way of off balance attempts in the paint.
“Ben’s been our MVP this season. He just broke the school record for season blocks and we’re only halfway through the season,” Dawson said. “His defense was instrumental tonight and helped propel us forward especially in the second half.”
Despite Hall’s best effort, Tuscarora junior forward Gavin O’Malley was able to muscle his way inside, leading the Huskies with 10 points.
After falling to Tuscarora, 54-50, in their first matchup of the season on December 8, Loudoun Valley got its revenge in come-from-behind fashion to maintain the No. 2 spot in the Dulles District at the midway point of the season.
“There’s a lot of parity in the district and you see that in the scores and the play,” Dawson said. “I don’t know if there’s a clear frontrunner, but we certainly would like to be there.”
Loudoun Valley Stats