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Loudoun All-Stars outshine Fairfax in NOVA Challenge

Travis Fulgham of the Loudoun All-Stars surveys the court March 23 during the inaugural NOVA Challenge. Fulgham, a senior at Broad Run High School, was selected as Loudoun’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 17 points in a 125-115 win.—Times-Mirror Photo/Rick Wasser
1st annual NOVA Challenge

-Slam Dunk Contest
Winner: Jordan Roach (Tuscarora)
Runner-up: Travis Fulgham (Broad Run)

-3-Point Contest
Winner: Joseph Richards (West Potomac)
Runner-up: Colin Jeffrey (Dominion)

-All-Star Game: Loudoun 125, Fairfax 115

-Game MVPs: Travis Fulgham (Broad Run); DeMornay Pierson-El (West Potomac)

-Beneficiary: Friends of Wounded Warriors


Held for the very first time March 23 at Centreville High School, the NOVA Challenge pitted the best high school senior basketball players in Loudoun County versus the top upperclassman hoopsters from Fairfax County.

For the inaugural event, at least, the west was the best. The Loudouners defeated their Fairfax counterparts 125-115 in an all-star contest that saw as many 3-pointers made (24) as fouls committed.

"It's a great opportunity to play with such great players from both Loudoun and Fairfax," said Broad Run's Travis Fulgham after the game, looking around at his 27 fellow all-stars from 21 different schools.

Fulgham was named Loudoun's MVP with a game-high 17 points, including three rim-rocking slams.

A wealth of skill took the stage as the two teams traded early dunks before commencing a clinic on long-distance shooting. Typical of an all-star exhibition, defensive effort was merely cursory so that offensive talent could be displayed.

Fairfax led by as many as eight points in the first half, but a series of 3-pointers from Loudoun Valley's Paul Rowley helped Loudoun secure a six-point halftime lead.

That advantage ballooned up to 15 midway through the third, forcing Fairfax to call the game's first timeout. More athleticism around the rim by Fulgham, Tuscarora's Josh Middleton and Dominion's Tony Richardson pushed Loudoun's lead to 20.

Propelled by DeMornay Pierson-El, a West Potomac product committed to play football at Nebraska, Fairfax closed to within six to end the third. The defenses heated up in the fourth, and the difference was whittled to as little as three.

But Loudoun never relinquished the lead. Layups by Briar Woods' Spencer Hatcher and long balls from Dominion's Colin Jeffrey pushed the margin up to eight.

With the final seconds ticking down, Fulgham punctuated the first-ever all-star event with a gravity-defying alley-oop reverse jam with two hands.

"I think it went just great," said Kevin Weeren, Loudoun Valley assistant coach who spearheaded the event, along with Centreville associate head coach Brian Doyle. The NOVA Challenge is modeled after an all-star game played several times about a decade ago between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Weeren, a high school coaching veteran in both Loudoun and Fairfax, observed that about 15 college coaches took in the action.

Weeren and Doyle have been working on the NOVA Challenge since last summer, and anticipate the classic to become an annual March occurrence. Next year's NOVA Challenge will be at a Loudoun high school to be determined, with the host site toggling between the two counties thereafter.

A different charitable organization will benefit from each subsequent NOVA Challenge.

"I had some people approach me today asking about having this at their schools," Weeren said. "This is a good concept at the right time."


Pre-game show

The afternoon's festivities opened with a 3-point competition and a slam dunk contest.

In the 14-player 3-point challenge, Jeffrey earned runner-up honors with 12, 10 and 13 points in the three 60-second rounds, shooting four racks of five balls. He endured the tiring circumstance of being the last shooter in the second round and, immediately after, the first in the final round.

"I was tired, yeah, but I thought I had it anyway," Jeffrey said.

The 6-foot-3 guard, set to play at Misericordia, added that he entered the competition having not practiced the event.

Four of the six in the dunking spectacle were Loudoun products, and two of those four - Fulgham and Tuscarora's Jordan Roach - jammed their way to the finals with 57 of 60 possible points.

Roach took the title with a little help from 12-year-old brother Jeremy, who ran ahead of Jordan to ricochet a pass off the backboard for big brother to ram home with two hands.

"It feels good. I've been wanting to do a dunk contest for a while," said the 6-foot-2 Roach, bound for Christopher Newport's hoops team next fall. He noted that it was his first time in a formal dunk competition.

Rowley was the only one to participate in both pre-game challenges. The future William and Mary player made it to the second round in the 3-point competition, and put up the third-best total in the dunk contest with 55 points.

He showed NBA-like creativity in the first round, tossing it off the gym's back wall and stuffing down the comeback bounce.


Loudoun 125, Fairfax 115

L: Fulgham 17, Middleton 15, Roach 15, Rowley 14, Richardson 13, Bowyer 12, Stewart 11, Jeffrey 11, Hatcher 10, Rhodes 4, Lam 3

F: Brumsey 13, Auslander 12, Fall 12, Pierson-El 12, Washington 11, Coneys 9, O'Neill 8, Puryear 8, Bacon 7, Bynum 6, Allsopp 5, Collier 5, Marin 5, Hale 2

3-pointers: Loudoun 13 (Rowley 4, Roach 3, Bowyer 2, Jeffrey 2, Lam, Stewart); Fairfax 11 (Fall 3, Auslander 2, Allsopp, Bacon, Coneys, Marin, Puryear, Washington

Dunks: Loudoun 4 (Fulgham 3, Richardson); Fairfax 1 (Brumsey)

Halftime: Loudoun 59, Fairfax 53


-Photos by Rick Wasser

Comments

it should be done in Football as well. Play the game in summer after school gets out. Rotate the game and raise funds for youth football in the area. 1st game can be played at Bill Allen Field in Sterling

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