After multiple seniors graduated, many didn’t expect Loudoun Valley High School's boys' basketball team to be as dominant as they were in recent years.
Despite the lowered expectations, the Vikings find themselves in a familiar spot - atop the Dulles District standings - nearing the midway point of the 2018-2019 season.
In a matchup of teams previously undefeated in district play, Loudoun Valley pulled away from host Dominion in the second half for a 73-61 win Friday night in Sterling.
The Vikings (4-0, 9-4) were led by Trent Dawson, the son of head coach Chad Dawson. The junior point guard was essential in the win, scoring a game-high 24 points. Half of his Trent Dawson's points came from the line, where he connected on 12 of 15 free-throw attempts.
“Great passes and great screens from my teammates put me in scoring situations,” Dawson said. “The other team always puts their most aggressive player against me and I always try to go at him and battle with him.”
In a game that was heavily influenced by the referees, Chad Dawson largely dismissed their impact.
“I tell our team, the fouls neither help you win or keep you from winning,” he said. “I think Trent is very adept at getting to the basket, his hesitation dribble allows his some opportunities at the free-throw line.”
On the other side, Dominion first-year head coach Anthony Eifler was not happy with the officiating, receiving a technical foul in the second half after a no-call on one of his players. “I yelled blow the whistle,” Eifler said.
Eifler was complimentary of Trent Dawson’s effort but acknowledged the influence of the referees.
“He’s a good player, he attacked the rim. Personally, I thought he got taken care of a little bit but he’s a good player and he earned it,” Eifler said. “He’s a tough kid and knows how to use his body and draw fouls and there’s a reason he’s one of the better players in the conference.”
Loudoun Valley's win, combined with Riverside's loss to Woodgrove, gives the Vikings sole possession of first place in the Dulles District.
“We felt like we were prepared but we knew it would be a tough task because Dominion is very talented and well coached,” Chad Dawson said.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I’ve been wanting to be number one for a while now,” Trent Dawson said.
The game started well for the Titans (4-1, 7-7). Senior forward Michael Discher scored 10 points in the opening frame to keep Dominion within four. The game was close throughout the first half, with the Vikings leading by two at the break.
Discher finished with a season-high 20 points. “I played my heart out today, unfortunately we didn’t pull through at the end,” Discher said.
It all turned in the second half, when Dawson took over, pushing the pace and scoring 15 points while assisting on several other baskets. The game was played at a breakneck pace, with both teams pushing the pace.
Junior Avery Nance scored 12 for the Vikings, but his true impact came on the defensive end. He made multiple impact plays, stripping Dominion ball-handlers multiple times, leading to breakaway layups.
“I feel like if we hound them like dogs, they were gonna turn the ball over,” Nance said. “I knew No. 1 was their primary ball-handler and I just wanted to lock him up and make a statement.”
Chad Dawson complimented Nance's performance. “When he’s locked in he’s very tough. He’s a jet, that’s what we call him."
Robby Adams, Clyde Volker and Umayr Obaid joined Dawson and Nance in double figures for the Vikings. Samuel Shelton scored 12 points for n the Titans.
Dominion is scheduled to host Heritage on Jan. 17, while Loudoun Valley travels to Riverside on Jan. 18 for another key district matchup.
Loudoun Valley 73 Dominion 61
LV: Dawson 24, Nance 12, Adams 12, Volker 11, Obaid 10, Thunell 4
D: Discher 20, Shelton 12, Frye 7, M. Mancuso 5, Thomas 5, Schroeder 2,
Halftime: LV 28-26
3-pointers: LV 3 (Dawson 2, Obaid); D 5 (Shelton, Hickey, Thomas, Discher, M. Mancuso)
Free throws: LV (24 of 28); D (13 of 23)
-Photos by Doug Stroud