By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (Jan. 6, 2015) – On the same day Loudoun County Public School students returned to school after their winter break, the Loudoun County High School and Tuscarora High School boys and girls varsity basketball teams met in a doubleheader friendly to duke out the first round of the Battle of the Burg.
A late Lady Husky run was thwarted by Loudoun County super freshman Natalie Villaflor who scored 16 second-half points after seeing limited first half action as the Lady Raiders won game one, 52-49.
On the boys side, Tuscarora head coach Al Smith’s hockey on hardwood approach paid off as his second line scored 26 points, enough for the Huskies to secure the victory over the Raiders, 75-59.
Girls game does not disappoint
When two of the top teams in the area meet in a crosstown rivalry game, one should expect nothing less than the best. And while neither team shot particularly well from the field, an exciting second half made up for a low scoring, sloppy first half of basketball.
“We knew coming in they were a good, strong team. We were going have to do what we always do,” Loudoun County junior guard Alyssa Paige said. “We just had to do it really well to defend such a good team. We knew we had to come out and play hard to win against a team like this.”
After taking a 10 point lead into the half, the Lady Raiders entered freshman center Natalie Villaflor who dominated the second half scoring 16 of her game-high 18 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“We made a lot of good plays to get to her. She was the best tonight in terms of finishing,” Loudoun County head coach Derek Fisher said. “Tuscarora is tough, they play good defense, everything is challenged. Natalie was able to finish off plays. When something is working you try to stick with it.”
“What we talked about coming into the game was emotion. Which team is going to be able to battle emotion?” Tuscarora head coach Michael Newkirk said. “We feel like were in a position to contest Loudoun County, but in the first half, we didn’t manage the emotion.”
As both teams scored 17 points in the third quarter, the Lady Raiders (9-1) took a 43-33 lead into the final frame, but a huge Lady Huskies’ (8-2) fourth quarter made the game interesting late.
With about five-and-a-half minutes left in the quarter, Tuscarora senior guard Megan Leonard drilled a three from the corner to swing the momentum in favor of the Lady Huskies who tied the game up at 47-47 with about four minutes to play.
“We take a lot of risks whether it is trapping or continuing the aggressive play. We were able to hold them to one shot in the second half. We wanted to make sure to dictate the game to our style, and we were able to do that,” Newkirk said.
But, when the going got tough for the Lady Raiders, Loudoun County did what they had done all half: find Villaflor under the basket.
“We knew they were going to make a run especially at home. They hit some shots and they went on a really nice run when we turned the ball over,” Fisher said. “We helped that run with some poor shot selection. Once we got Natalie some nice shots inside, we weathered the storm a little bit.”
Loudoun County has one of the deepest teams in the county as 12 different girls saw action in the rivalry game. But while the freshman phenom Villaflor shined late, it was junior center Elisabeth Gianelos who carried the Lady Raiders to victory with her 16-point, 8-rebound, 7-block performance.
“We feel like we have a lot of good basketball players. We feel like we can get a lot of people in the game,” Fisher said. “That’s the other thing we were thinking about during that run. I think they tied it up with about four minutes left. We had been using all of our guys. We were thinking maybe those last four minutes we would be a little bit fresher team. That might have been just enough.”
While the Lady Raiders have proven themselves year in and year out as one of the top teams in the state, the Lady Huskies are on the rise.
“We’re just trying to get as good as County. They’re the standard,” Newkirk said. “We treat these games as something to get us better. This doesn’t make or break our season but hopefully something we learn tonight or Monday will help us through the rest of our season.”
Husky boys run away late
Villaflor was not the only freshman to shine on Monday night, as Tuscarora freshman guard Alex Bailey game out a different player in the second half of the boys game scoring a game-high 18 points after shooting poorly from everywhere on the court in the first half.
“To his credit, he was able to step up in the second half and knock them down,” Tuscarora head coach Al Smith said. “He stepped up his defensive intensity a little bit and forced some turnover fast breaks and was able to attack the rim.”
Bailey was aided by a tenacious Husky (7-2) defense as a three-point halftime lead quickly expanded in the third quarter as the Raiders (5-5) did not connect on a field goal until four-and-a-half minutes into the half when junior guard Kyle Stock knocked down a three-pointer to give Loudoun County a little momentum.
A controversial call killed the Raiders’ momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
As the clock buzzed at the end of the third quarter, the referee on the baseline signaled a player control foul against Bailey as Loudon County senior forward Quad Borup had clearly established position in the paint and took the obvious charge with no one but Bailey and the referee around.
However, when the referee went to report the foul at the scorer’s table he changed his mind, called a blocking foul on Borup and scored Bailey’s made basket.
A 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter was enough for the Huskies as they ran away with the win even as the Raiders continued to show fight late in the game.
“I think we like to play fast and work hard. These guys are improving all the time. As soon as we start shooting the ball a little bit better, I’ll feel a little bit more comfortable,” Smith said. “I’m proud of where we’re at right now and looking forward to our growth for the rest of the season.”
On Jan. 12, Loudoun County will host Tuscarora in the Battle of the Burg doubleheader rematch as both teams celebrate Loudoun County’s annual Hoops for Heroes night.
Loudoun County Lady Raiders Stats
Natalie Villaflor 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 2-for-5 free throws
Elisabeth Gianelos 16 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 7 blocked shots, 2-for-3 free throws
Alyssa Paige 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists, 2-for-2 free throws
Tayler Tibbits 5 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Katie Van Nuys 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1-for-2 free throws
Emily Miller 2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists
Gabby Gillis 3 rebounds, 0-for-1 free throw
Madison Szoka 2 points
Grace Klerekoper 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Tess Tibbits 1 rebound
Hannah Brenneman 1 steal, 1 assist
Chloe Knox 1 assist
52 points, 38 rebounds, 19 turnovers, 8 steals, 7 blocked shots, 12 assists, 7-for-13 free throws
Tuscarora Lady Huskies Stats
Alexis Bailey 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 assists, 2-for-5 free throws
Chloe Roach 10 points, 5 rebounds, 6 steals, 1 blocked shot, 2-for-4 free throws
Megan Leonard 8 points, 1 rebound, 3 steals, 1 assist
Jhade Aird 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3-for-9 free throws
Kennedy Middleton 5 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 1-for-2 free throws
Kelly Troilo 5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Rachel Nibbelink 2 points, 2 rebounds
Ashley Leonard 1 point, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1-for-2 free throws
49 points, 38 rebounds, 15 turnovers, 13 steals, 1 blocked shot, 4 assists, 9-for-22 free throws
Tuscarora Huskies Stats
Alex Bailey 18 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 1 assist, 4-for-9 free throws
Kyle Copeland 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, 5-for-7 free throws
George Cross 8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1-for-1 free throw
Jordan Fisher 6 points, 5 rebounds
Duron Norris 6 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1-for-1 free throws
Dalaynte Blaylock 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 assist
Jamel Howard 5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Tique Yarbrough 4 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 blocked shot
Jaylin Futrell 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists
Bryce Sorrell 3 points, 1 rebound
Jonathan Roebuck 2 points, 3 rebounds
75 points, 33 rebounds, 10 turnovers, 12 steals, 2 blocked shots, 8 assists, 11-for-21 free throws
Loudoun County Raiders Stats
Ethan Walker 17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 assists, 2-for-2 free throws
Chad Cummings 10 points, 7 rebounds
Kyle Stock 10 points, 1 rebound, 2-for-4 free throws
Quad Borup 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2-for-2 free throws
Takwan Crews-Naylor 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists, 1-for-3 free throws
Joe Mozeyko 4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
Jordan Harris 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1-for-2 free throws
Darius Taylor 3 points, 1 steal, 1 assist
Kyle Peyton 2 points, 1 rebound
59 points, 41 rebounds, 18 turnovers, 4 steals, 8 assists, 8-for-13 free throws
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently in his senior year at Syracuse University. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.