After several near-misses at their ultimate goal, the Loudoun Valley High School boy’s basketball team is now just one win away from a Virginia State Championship. With a win against Williamsburg’s Jamestown High School on March 10, the Vikings will take home their first basketball title in school history.
“We try to emphasize putting a winning effort on the floor,” Head Coach Chad Dawson said. “We’ve been very successful in our 14 years. It hasn’t resulted in an opportunity to be in this game in particular. So that’s exciting, to have the opportunity to be on the biggest stage.”
Success has been no fluke in Purcellville since Dawson took over in 2002. Loudoun Valley is 29-1 this season with the only loss coming by three to Heritage. Last season the team was undefeated before an upset loss in the state tournament. Before that, the team has consistently been a playoff presence, but has never come home with the title.
“Part of it is how the system is set up,” Dawson said. “You have conference, then you have the region, then you have to reboot. That was our message this year, coming into the state tournament. How you handle that week impacts how you handle things in the state tournament, so that was a big learning curve for us last year.”
This year, Dawson’s team took that approach to heart. Valley overcame injuries to several key players in a thrilling 64-63 win against Winchester’s John Handley High School in the West Region Championship on Feb. 24, giving the Vikings one of eight spots in the 4A state playoff.
“The kids didn’t want the season to end there,” Dawson said.
The Vikings haven’t had much threat of ending their season since. Following the win over the Judges, the Vikings pummeled Monacan in a rematch 83-61 in the state quarterfinals and blew by Norfolk’s Booker T. Washington 75-43 in the semi-finals.
Awaiting them in the finals is Jamestown, a senior-laded team and the No. 1 seed in the East Region.
“Jamestown is very well coached,” Dawson said. “They kind of burst on to the scene this year and they have a high basketball IQ. It shows when you’re watching them play in person and on film.”
“It will be a great challenge for us.”
Likewise, the Eagles wil have their hands against a Vikings squad that is experienced in its own right.
Leading the way for Valley is junior Jordan Miler, the team’s leading scorer. Dawson said he is already one of the best players in school history and at times is so dominant, his own teammates lose focus of the game while watching him play.
That’s not to say Miller is lacking in talented teammates. He is joined in the back court by the guard tandem of Nick Ball and Dominic Peterson, both of whom share captain duties with Miller. Other key pieces in the include Duron Noris and Jalen Williams, highlighting a team of what Dawson calls “basketball junkies.”
“I think they’re really excited and playing very confidently and looking forward to the opportunity to compete to a state title,” Dawson said. “The kids get an opportunity to be on this stage. They work really hard, and we’re excited to see what we can do on Friday.”