The Heritage Pride had already saddled the Loudoun Valley Vikings with one loss – their only loss. On their home floor with a title hanging in the balance, the Vikings made sure the Pride wasn’t going to get them again.
Final score –
Heritage Pride (20-5) 6 13 14 22 = 55
Loudoun Valley Vikings (24-1) 19 11 13 26 = 69
Loudoun Valley scorers –
Points: Jordan Miller 31, Duron Norris 11, Jalen Williams 10, Dom Peterson 6, Nick Ball 5, Jamir DeGree 4, Nick Dize 2
Three-pointers: Miller 2, Peterson 2, Williams 2, Norris 1
Free throws: Miller 13-17, DeGree 2-2, Williams 2-2, Ball 1-2, Dize 0-1
Heritage scorers –
Points: Garrett Ganley 13, Zach Garrett 11, Mohamed Sene 9, Chris Chapman 6, Nathan Olafson 5, Aaron Maisus 3, Darick Edmond 2, Dylan Saale 2, Gio Seigler 2, Kyle Turner 2
Three-pointers: Ganley 1, Maisus 1, Olafson 1, Sene 1
Free throws: Garrett 3-3, Saale 2-2, Sene 2-2, Chapman 2-3, Ganley 2-4, Seigler 2-4, Edmond 0-2
Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va. (February 16, 2017) — The boys’ basketball team they call the Pride of Heritage High School is good. Very good. The opposing head coach said so, several times, after his team had to work to get through Heritage in winning the Conference 21-East championship game.
That coach’s team’s played the Pride four times already this season, and his team’s suffered its sole loss at Heritage’s hands. So he ought to know how good the Pride is.
“They’re a good team. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical. They’re good,” said the head coach of the Vikings of Loudoun Valley High School, 14-year veteran Chad Dawson, right after the Vikings used an early lead to get past the Pride for its latest conference championship.
Down through the years, Dawson noted, the Pride has ruined perfection for his Viking clubs.
“We were 18-0 in [Josh] Grimard’s year [2012-’13] and they beat us. We were 11-0 in 2005 and they beat us,” Dawson rattled off, encyclopedically. “This year we were 17-0 and they beat us. Three times they’ve done that to us. They’re good.”
This season’s Heritage edition is good, very good, and they’re a regional threat with a great shot at the madness beyond. With eight seniors, some shooters, some size and a lot of fight, the Pride of southern Leesburg is a team to watch. Off their five losses, one is to a bigger school in Group 5A Tuscarora, and three others have come versus the same Vikings.
But Valley is really good, really really good, and they’re a legit threat to hang up a state title banner for the first time ever. They’ve got one guy getting major Division I looks, another with his pick of Division II and III programs, and a host of college-level and solid athletes besides. They can get hot with their collective shot, and they have the size and footwork to haul in rebounds on both ends.
The Vikings also play fantastic tenacious yet fundamental defense – at least, to the untrained eye.
“Our defense was a C or worse, I would say. Probably hovered around there the whole game,” said Dawson, noting slower rotations and close-outs than the successful coach would like.
Both squads have more to look forward to, in the upcoming Region 4A West tourney starting Feb. 20 – during which tournament the Vikings and the Pride might cross paths for Showdown No. 5.
Early Lead Leads To Late Lead
The first strains of AC/DC’s rock anthem Hell’s Bells wafted across the massive assemblage of amped fans filling to capacity LVHS’s cozy gym. With flair the players were introduced, the Vikings emerging to rhythmic applause from The Jungle student section.
Valley cheerleader Anastazia Corbett fired up the packed house even more with a sublimely fine rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Valley won the tip and star junior forward Jordan Miller – the one interesting major colleges – began proceedings with a nice touch for a short jumper off glass. The long, lanky, left-handed Miller then stroked home a pair of threes before ending his 10-point first quarter with a strong take to the hole.
“I knew my team needed a spark,” said Miller of the quick jump-out. “We really wanted to show that we could beat them. We knew that solidifying tonight’s win would really prove that.”
The Pride climbed back into it with a 7-0 run to start the second as senior Garrett Ganley put back an offensive rebound, then stole and in-bounds pass for an old-fashioned three-point play, making it 19-13.
But Duron Norris – serenaded with “Duuuu” during pregame intros – hit a triple, then stole the ball for a run-out lay-up. Five more Valley points followed to make it 29-13.
“They’re our only loss,” said Norris, who kept returning to that fact. “We just wanted to get after them. We really wanted to win. We owed them.”
The Pride were true to their name in the second half, challenging their stalwart hosts. Sophomore Nathan Olafson swirled in a three-pointer, then Zach Garrett dribble-drove from coast to coast to drop in a runner plus the foul shot. It was 34-27 with 12 game-minutes remaining.
With 11 game-minutes left, it was 39-28 and it stayed right about that margin the rest of the way. Ganley connected on a three-pointer to bring the Pride within 12, but junior guard Dom Peterson had the immediate answer with a long ball of his own.
Miller punctuated his evening at the office by putting back an offensive rebound, absorbing a foul and smoothly sinking the free throw. The effort effectively sealed the outcome with a 15-point differential under two minutes to go.
Heritage outrebounded Valley 33-27, including more offensive boards (15-12), and the Pride found more paint points (26) than the Vikings did (20). The visitors hurt themselves by committing twice as many turnovers as Valley’s nine.
Valley made 44.9% of the 49 shots they took; Heritage converted 43.2% of their 44. Norris swatted away three Heritage shots, the same number of Loudoun Valley shots Ganley blocked.
The stats tell a story of a close game, and that’s a true story. After the Vikings’ game-opening burst, they held the lead steady between 7 and 16, not letting the Pride get on game-making runs but not finding that ultimate separation until late.
“This is really big, but this isn’t our main goal. This is just another bump in the road, like we say,” Miller stated. “We have a vision for the state championship. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
His older teammate shared that vision.
“We want a state championship,” Norris said. “We think we deserved it last year, and we deserve it this year.”
Two good teams, one good game. Makes you want to see how they do in the next level up.
* Thanks to Legit Stats for all the right numbers.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications