By Jason S Rufner
Special to Viva Loudoun
Purcellville (Feb. 20, 2014) – Loudoun Valley High School’s top-seeded girls and boys basketball squads each hosted and won semifinal games in the 3A East Conference 28 tournament Wednesday evening.
The Viking girls (15-7) survived a comeback bid from fourth-seeded Warren County to win 44-33, then the Viking boys (18-4) took care of business against fourth-seeded John Champe, 71-57.
As a reward, Valley will be the site of Friday’s Conference 28 championship battles. The girls take on No. 2 Central-Woodstock and the boys battle No. 3 William Monroe. Both Loudoun Valley teams will also advance to the 3A East regional tournament.
Valley boys cruise past Champe
Spurred by senior forward Paul Rowley’s personal nine-point run in the first quarter, the Vikings jumped out to an early double-digit lead and maintained it throughout.
“Having been to the state tournament last year, teams want to come out and beat you,” Loudoun Valley coach Chad Dawson said. “They fought hard. Survive and advance, that’s what we want to do.”
The Vikings amassed their largest lead in the third quarter. During a one-minute span, sophomore guard Trey McDyer nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Rowley rattled in one of his own to give the home team a 49-26 advantage.
The upstart Knights didn’t go away quietly. Using the rebounding of Jeff Rhodes and Graydon Hester, and the scoring abilities of slashing sophomore guard Ismail Canton and his 14 second-half points, Champe trimmed the deficit down to 10 with more than five minutes left.
“This is his first year playing for us,” said Champe coach Kip Shallis of Canton. “He’s got unbelievable talent and it’s almost impossible to keep him in front.”
But Rowley responded, absorbing a foul on a 3-point try and knocking down three free throws with machine-like precision, and Valley held firm for the win.
For Champe (11-12), a program participating in just its second ever season – and its first campaign with seniors on the roster – the advancement into the conference’s semifinals bodes well for the Aldie school.
“We grew up as basketball players and as men tonight. I couldn’t be more proud,” Shallis said. “I hate that we lost, but we can walk out of here with our heads held high.”
BOX: Loudoun Valley 71, John Champe 57
1 2 3 4 F
JC 5 14 18 20 57
LV 15 16 23 17 71
LV: Rowley 23, McDyer 17, Irving 11, DeGree 10, Bowyer 7, Smolens 2, DeLeonardis 1
JC: Canton 22, Rhodes 14, Hester 9, Murray 8, Burdick 4
Free throws: LV 14-17; JC 8-14
3-pointers: LV 7 (McDyer 3, Rowley 2, Bowyer, Irving); JC 3 (Murray 2, Canton)
Viking girls hold off Warren County
Getting their hands on innumerable shots, passes and dribbles, the Vikings employed the same tenacious defense that third-year coach Kenyamo McFarlane has preached all season.
“All year we’ve been harping on defense, communicating, talking,” McFarlane said. “Using traps, forcing teams into bad shots, one-and-done, that’s what we want.”
Valley engineered an 11-2 run over eight minutes of the first half to take a commanding 12-point lead over the visitors from Front Royal, causing 18 turnovers by halftime.
But a third-quarter offensive drought allowed the Wildcats (14-10) to sneak back in it, whittling the Vikings’ lead to two points with seven minutes to go in the fourth.
That’s when sophomore guard Emily Thompson swished home Valley’s only 3-pointer of the game, and the home squad was not seriously challenged again.
Jessie Hardesty, Mar Keane and Jerica Mingo each blocked Warren County shots, while Warren County’s pass attempts were deflected or intercepted all game long.
“Tips lead to turnovers, tips lead to steals, tips lead to frustration on the offensive side,” McFarlane said. “I always say, tips can get us to the championship.”
BOX: Loudoun Valley 44, Warren County 33
1 2 3 4 F
WC 6 7 13 7 33
LV 11 14 6 13 44
LV: Sweet 12, Graves 11, Thompson 11, Mingo 4, Bowyer 2, Hardesty 2, Keane 2
Free throws: LV 9-14
3-pointers: LV 1 (Thompson)