Vik­ings take game over in sec­ond half

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY DAN ROTH dan.roth@wash­

No. 12 Loudoun Val­ley hit its first speed bump of the Vir­ginia High School League 4A dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of Satur­day’s semi­fi­nal against Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton-Danville at Salem Civic Cen­ter.

The Vik­ings had an eight­point lead af­ter the first quar­ter, but their of­fense stalled, and the Ea­gles clawed within four at the half, with their mo­men­tum fur­ther buoyed by a steal and dunk just be­fore the break.

But the Vik­ings took over in the sec­ond half of a 75-43 vic­tory to clinch a berth in the state ti­tle game.

“We got caught watch­ing [lead­ing scorer Jor­dan Miller],” said Coach Chad Daw­son, whose team cruis­ing to a dom­i­nant win over de­fend­ing state cham­pion Monacan in the quar­ter­fi­nals a day ear­lier. “We em­pha­sized at half­time we’ve got to play Vik­ing bas­ket­ball and cut to the bas­ket and that will free up a lot more op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Se­nior Nick Ball had canned a trio of three-point­ers in the first quar­ter to pace the Vik­ings. One was a deep three from the right wing, which he ac­knowl­edged was “prob­a­bly a bad shot,” but af­ter see­ing it go in, he knew he had the shooter’s touch.

“In the sec­ond quar­ter, I think we gave up too many easy buck­ets for them, and we weren’t re­ally get­ting back well on de­fense,” Ball said.

The game was still too close for com­fort early in the sec­ond half, though not for long.

The Vik­ings gained trac­tion in the third quar­ter by push­ing the ball in tran­si­tion. Com­ing off a 25-point out­ing in the quar­ter­fi­nals, Miller (22 points, 18 re­bounds) was the fo­cal point of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s de­fense and drew plenty of dou­ble teams.

Ball stayed hot and Miller got rolling as the Vik­ings bal­looned the lead to 15 points head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

“It def­i­nitely feels good,” said Ball, who scored a game-high 25 points. “We were kind of cut short last year, los­ing in the first round, so it def­i­nitely feels good get­ting to the big game. We just got to fin­ish it and fin­ish it strong.”

Loudoun Val­ley (30-1) will face Jamestown, which squeaked past Han­d­ley, 66-65, ear­lier in the day, in their first state fi­nal ap­pear­ance Fri­day at 8:30 p.m. at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity.

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