Vikings take game over in second half
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.