After three quarters Tuesday night, the marquee meeting of Dulles District unbeatens Dominion and host Loudoun Valley looked more like a stumbling block than a blockbuster.
The Dominion Titans and Loudoun Valley Vikings struggled to an 8-8 tie after one quarter. Dominion’s shooting woes continued, allowing Valley, sparked by its defense, to take a 45-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
Dominion mounted a furious rally, pulling to within 51-47 on a 3-pointer by Nicholas Barenz with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to play, before Valley regained the momentum to claim a 64-55 victory in Purcellville.
“We both started kind of slow, but I think defensively we did a lot of good things,” Valley coach Chad Dawson said. “[In the fourth quarter], they started hitting some big shots and that kind of turned the momentum and then we played a little bit apprehensive.”
In the midst of the Titans’ fourth-quarter rally, Valley senior Avery Vance hit two driving baskets to steady his team. Junior Umayr Obaid’s 3-pointer with a little less than three minutes to play was a dagger that stretched the Vikings’ lead back to eight points, and Obaid made two more baskets off assists from Trent Dawson to help put the game away.
Obaid led all scorers with 20 points, while Trent Dawson added 17 and Vance scored 11.
“I think Umayr Obaid was the player of the game,” coach Dawson said. “I think he hit some big shots -- even after he sprained his ankle -- and had a lot of deflections. I was really proud of his effort tonight. Avery Nance is very good at getting to the basket, and he hit some big shots for us tonight.”
The victory helped Valley improve to 3-0 in the Dulles District and 8-3 overall. The Titans fell to 4-1 in the district and 8-4 overall.
Dominion coach Anthony Eifler said cold shooting and uncharacteristic mistakes were too much for his team to overcome against the Vikings.
“We’re not an amazing shooting team, but that first half we couldn’t hit anything,” Eifler said. “Later, a couple shots started to fall and the energy picked up a little bit and when that happened, we made a run.”
Senior guard Max Mancuso hit a basket to open the fourth-quarter Dominion rally. Barenz scored 10 points and Jake Mancuso added 11 during the run.
“We battled ... that’s the main thing,” Eifler said. “We can’t dig ourselves a hole against a good team like Valley, if we want to become a championship team. That is our goal.”
Jake Mancuso led Dominion with 19 points, while Barenz added 12 and Samuel Shelton chipped in seven.
“I think the second half was more the team that we are,” Eifler said. “Jake Mancuso came in and really battled. He always gives us a good energy push off the bench. Nick Barenz came in and hit a couple open threes at the end that were big for us. We just had a couple runs where they went 7-0 or 8-2 on us. We have to work through those.”
One of those key runs was in the third quarter, when Valley stretched an eight-point halftime lead to 18. In that period, Dawson made seven free throws -- twice converting after being fouled on 3-point shots -- to match the total team scoring output for Dominion in the quarter.
“He’s got a very good basketball IQ and he loves to distribute the ball,” the coach said of his son. “He loves to get his teammates involved and he made some big assists tonight for sure.”
Coach Dawson feels the win was crucial for his team’s hopes in the district. The Vikings’ next game is Thursday at home against Heritage, followed by a road game Friday at Woodgrove.
Valley will travel to Dominion for a rematch on Feb. 6.
“You have to protect the house,” Dawson said. “You have to win your home games, especially in the conference. They are a good team and we still have to go down there and play them at their place.”
Dominion returns to action Friday at Loudoun County (3-0, 7-3). Eifler said the fourth-quarter rally against Valley gives his team confidence moving forward.
“Unfortunately, we were a couple possessions short,” Eifler said. “We are looking forward to having them back at our place in a couple of weeks.”
Loudoun Valley 64, Dominion 55
D: J. Mancuso 19, Barenz 12, Shelton 7, Thomas 6, M. Mancuso 4, Hickey 4, Mann 3
LV: Obaid 20, Dawson 17, Nance 11, Volker 9, Cooper Thunell 4, Ayouch 2, Cole Thunell 1
Halftime: Valley 24-16
3-pointers: D 4 (Barenz 2, Shelton, Mann): LV 5 (Obaid 3, Nance, Volker)
Free throws: D (11 of 14); LV (14 of 18)