By Morgan Widdifield
LoCoSports Copy Editor
Purcellville (February 22, 2016) — It took the Golden State Warriors 25 straight games to lose in the 2015-2016 NBA regular season. The Loudoun Valley Vikings, then 22-0, reached the Conference 21B boys basketball championship on February 18 in hopes of keeping their winning streak alive. They faced a Heritage High School team that had repeatedly snapped perfection for the Vikings over the last decade. Yet this time, the Vikings were victorious, edging the Pride, 62-40, and now sit atop the VHSL 4A state rankings at an impressive 23-0.
“[The major factor] I believe was our defensive intensity in the second quarter, holding them to five points,” Loudoun Valley head coach Chad Dawson said. “We’ve been very strong in the middle quarters this year, and it was true again tonight.”
After only being ahead by three points after the first quarter, the Vikings – led by junior Nick Ball and sophomores Jalen Williams and Jordan Miller – began to steadily pull away from the Pride. Seconds before the end of the half, Miller sunk a wide-open three-pointer, which helped catapult the momentum to the Vikings at the break.
“We have about eight or nine players who could start,” Dawson said. “We always tell them that it is not who starts that matters most, it is much more important to finish and put a winning effort on the court when your number is called.”
All twelve Vikings played in the conference final, with eight scoring points. Dawson did, however, end up starting five guards – Ball, Williams, Miller, junior Jamir Degree and senior Trey McDyre – to showcase that you don’t necessarily need height to be a powerhouse basketball program.
“That group is really talented and what they might lack in size, they definitely compensate for in speed and athleticism,” Dawson said. “We play fast even when we have [Jason] Yoxthimer on the court who is 6-foot-6 because he runs the floor really well.”
Ball, Williams and Miller each scored 10-plus for the Vikings, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“I am very proud of how they conduct themselves both on and off the court. They are mature beyond their years which has a lot to do with our senior leadership from Daniel Traub, Jason Yoxthimer and Trey McDyre. They share the ball so well, and they play fundamental basketball,” Dawson said. “They just want to win, and they don’t care who gets the credit. [Our coaching staff] is very humbled to be their coaches and work with such fine young men.”
On February 23, Loudoun Valley will host the winner of the region first round contest between Conference 22 No. 2 Kettle Run and Conference 24 No. 2 William Fleming in a VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal at 8 p.m. in Purcellville. That same day, Heritage will play in a VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal of their own, travelling to Conference 24 No. 1 William Byrd for a 7 p.m. tip.