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January 9, 2014

#7 Loudoun Valley Edges #3 Handley

Final - - #7 Loudoun Valley 43, #3 Handley 38:

In one of the state's more intriguing clashes on Thursday night, the host Loudoun Valley Vikings outlasted the visiting John Handley Judges, 43-38 in a low-scoring battle. The loss marks the first of the season for Handley, who entered ranked #3 in the state on VirginiaPreps.com in Group 4A and one of only six unbeaten public school teams in the Commonwealth.

Loudoun Valley, which came in ranked #7 in the state on VirginiaPreps.com in Group 3A, scored their fewest amount of points on the year. Previously, the Vikings' low was 48 in an overtime loss to Loudoun County.

Down 10 early in the third quarter, Loudoun Valley made its rally as senior 6-foot-8 small forward Paul Rowley, who's signed to play his College Basketball in the CAA at William & Mary, scored 11 of his game-high 13 points in the second half. Rowley started out just 1-of-7 from the field, but made his last three shots, highlighted by the go-ahead three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

After shooting only 31.8% from the field in the first half and 16.7% from long distance (1-of-6), Loudoun Valley capitalized over the final two periods as they converted 8-of-11, a healthy 72.7%. Meanwhile, Handley shot a meager 34.9% from the field with none of their subs scoring on the night.

Leading the way in defeat for Handley was junior wing KeSean Robinson with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also had to cover Rowley, one of the most consistent perimeter players in the state, and held his own by keeping him to only 10 shot attempts and coming up with four steals.

The win, Loudoun Valley's fifth in a row, moves the Vikings to 10-2 overall. Next up is a home date with Heritage-Leesburg on January 14th.

Player of the Game: Loudoun Valley's Trey McDyre - - Ordinarily, Rowley would be the pick. After all, he's a Division I signee and the team's best player, averaging 22 points per game on the season. But it was the grit and determination of McDyre around the cup going up against Handley low post presence Cameron Jackson (a Wofford signee) that proved to pay major dividends for the Vikings.

On the night, McDyre finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, a double-double. The 6-foot-1 sophomore was a steady influence offensively and on the glass, plus became an even greater factor as the game progressed. He shot 4-of-7 from the floor, made all four of his foul shots and in 31 minutes of play kept possessions alive with five offensive boards, more than double anyone else had.

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Control Tempo: The Vikings are seeking their third consecutive State Playoff trip, and one of the main reasons for their success has long been the ability to control tempo. Coach Chad Dawson's team was able to play at a deliberate pace and keep a Handley team that has thrived in up-tempo situations stuck in the half-court most of the night.

After scoring eight fast-break points in the first half, the Judges managed just four the rest of the way. They also had three costly missed free-throws down the stretch, allowing Loudoun Valley to maintain the lead once they got it for the first time with 2:38 to play.

By keeping Handley out of transition, Loudoun Valley was able to keep the score down, and that played in their favor. Furthermore, their offense executed when it needed to in the fourth period with 17 points, including two critical three-pointers that either tied the score or put them ahead.


#2 - - Utilizing Zone:
Loudoun Valley mixed up its zone looks defensively, going to a 2-3 early on, then switching to a 1-3-1 and even showing some 3-2. What it did best of all was eliminate dribble penetration by Tre Brown, a classic type of point guard that many of his teammates defer to and the starter to the Judges' offense.

Without Brown getting in the lane, it was tougher for perimeter wing scorer Solomon Finley, Handley's second leading scorer, to get going, and Jackson's shot attempts were down. By night's end, Jackson attempted only eight shots, one in the final eight minutes.

Coming in, Handley was averaging 67.8 points per game. They scored just 17 points in the second half, their lowest total of the 2013-14 campaign. Above all else, the three-point line was very unkind to the Judges, who misfired on all 13 tries behind the arc.


#3 - - Get to the FT Line: At intermission, Loudoun Valley made no trips to the charity stripe. To no surprise, they Vikings trailed by six, and that deficit would soon grow to 25-15 just moments into the third period. Once Rowley got them to the foul line at the 6:21 mark of the third quarter for the first time on the evening, Loudoun Valley began to play less tentative and more willing to attack Handley's defense, which operated out of a 1-3-1 zone look at times.

In the second half, the Vikings made 9-of-14 from the foul line. Handley went there only seven times in the second half, and two of their starters didn't make any trips to the line. This really helped slow the game down to a crawl like Loudoun Valley wanted it to be most of the way.

Final Stats:

Loudoun Valley Vikings 43: (10-2 Overall)
Paul Rowley - - 13Pts. 4-10FG, 2-4 3's, 3-4FT, 6Reb.
Trey McDyre - - 12Pts. 4-7FG, 4-4FT, 12Reb.
Coy Bowyer - - 6Pts. 2-4FG, 4Reb.
Darius Degree - - 5Pts. 2-3FG, 3Reb. 3Ast. 2Stl.

Handley Judges 38: (6-1 Overall)
KeSean Robinson - - 12Pts. 6-11FG, 2Reb. 2Ast. 4Stl.
Cameron Jackson - - 11Pts. 3-8FG, 4-10FT, 4Reb. 2Ast. 3Stl.
Tre Brown - - 6Pts. 3-8FG, 4Reb. 2Stl.
Solomon Finley - - 4Pts. 2-13FG, 4Reb. 3Ast.

Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.com, and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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