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Miller’s late free throws lift Loudoun Valley to regional championship

Loudoun Valley players and fans rejoice following the Vikings’ dramatic 64-63 victory versus John Handley in the 4A West Region boys’ basketball championship game.—Times-Mirror/Rick Wasser
The guy with the ball watched the clock tick below five seconds with his team trailing by one. That guy, Jordan Miller, the highly-regarded junior forward for the Loudoun Valley Vikings, put his head down and put the ball on the floor, the left-hander going to his right in the decisive moment of the 4A West Region championship game against the challengers from John Handley.

Two long strides toward the hole and Miller was fouled on his arms, the whistle causing the massive, anxious crowd inside the crammed to capacity gymnasium in Purcellville to explode in delight of what they could potentially see.

The crowd roared even louder when they actually saw it. With 3.4 seconds left, the lanky lefty smoothly stroked each of two free throws, separated by a timeout of one very loud minute. After an unthreatening moment of defense, the host Vikings had a thrilling 64-63 triumph.

Natives of Valley's notoriously vociferous student section, The Jungle, poured onto the court to celebrate with their uniformed classmates.

Senior guard Nick Ball, who hit key 3-pointers in both halves on his way to 10 points, held up the sizable silver trophy the Vikings (27-1) had just added to their season's body of work.

Dominic Peterson, who nailed three from beyond the arc for 15 points, shared several embraces. Miller, a Division I college prospect, was a popular photograph target, which he smilingly accepted. He'd just authored a 19-point, four-rebound performance including the last four of his 12 free throws.

The game was tied 2-2 and 7-7 before the Vikings went up 20-10 to end the first. The Judges (27-2) trimmed that to three by halftime, and the tilt was tied at 41-41 and then at 59-59 to set the stage for Miller's clutch makes.

Both teams are into the Group 4A state tournament. Valley, winners of 11 straight, will travel to the Salem Civic Center for the quarterfinal round March 3 versus Monacan, the fourth seed from the 4A East Region.

-Check back for a full story and more photos.

Jordan Miller sank two free-throws with 3.4 seconds on the clock. "Downtown" Dominic Peterson, who drained a trio of 3-pointers, watches as the winning point soars.--Times-Mirror/Rick Wasser



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