In the Group AA Northwestern District tournament Wednesday, the Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County high school golf teams finished as close as they have all season. And that's saying a lot: The two rivals were within three strokes of each other in three previous 1999 matches.

Loudoun Valley won by one stroke, 322 to 323, over Loudoun County at Lowes Island as both teams qualified for the Northern Regional tournament, which will be held Tuesday at Green Hills country club in Standardsville.

Three other local players qualified, including seniors Bryan Meade (77) and Chris Marshall (81) of third-place Park View--which had a team score of 328--and Matt Ryan (7) of seventh-place Broad Run.

The Vikings were led by senior Michael Masters and junior Joel Bodine. The team's overall performance was barely enough to overcome the efforts of Billy Hurley, the Raider senior who won the tournament's individual championship with a 76.

But the key for Loudoun Valley was the 78 recorded by No. 6 player Gary Jones. Until his score was posted, Loudoun Valley was actually in third place, behind Park View.

"When I saw that posted, I didn't know what to think," Park View Coach Al Dickinson said.

It was the fourth time this year that Loudoun County and Loudoun Valley had met and the third time the Vikings had won. The Raiders won the first time, at the J.V. Arthur Tournament in August. The three-stroke win would prove to be the biggest margin of victory between the two schools.

Loudoun Valley captured the next two matches, both dual matches during the regular season, by two and three strokes, respectively.

"We could play them 100 times, and it would be close 100 times," Raiders Coach John Laycock said.

Potomac Falls may have been the biggest surprise of the tournament, placing fourth in the eight-team field, because Lowes Island is its home course. But Coach Jeff Hawes said the home-course advantage ended up working against his players.

"On any course you're used to playing, you have holes that you just can't do well on, that frustrate you," he said. "I think that happened to some of our kids."

Delaney Athletic Conference

In only its third year of existence, the Highland School golf team completed its best season with its most impressive finish. But somehow, it was still disappointing.

Highland placed second in the Delaney Athletic Conference tournament, held Wednesday at the Golf School at Broad Run in Manassas. The team finished four strokes behind first-place Quantico, a traditional golf power in the DAC, which had a score of 124.

Among other local schools, Wakefield placed sixth with a 147, led by junior Andrew Zayatz with a 47. Notre Dame Academy placed eighth with a 152, led by junior Nathaniel Heigl with a 44.

Highland was led by juniors Dudley Payne (40) and Rob Bowman (41), with junior Shawn McPherson contributing a 47. The DAC tournament scores by taking a team's top three finishers.

A day earlier at the same course, the same three players shot a much lower 116. Coach Tom Thomas blamed nerves for his team's slippage the next day.

"Dudley is a player with tournament experience, but the other guys on the team aren't," Thomas said. "We knew we could have won the tournament. [But] I'm glad we got second. It gives us a goal for next season, to win the tournament."

Commonwealth District

A good regular season gave the Fauquier High golf team hope going into the Commonwealth District tournament, but a wet and long course at Augustine golf club Wednesday proved to be too much for the Falcons.

Fauquier shot a four-person team total of 358 for a fifth-place tie with James Wood. Brooke Point won, with a 335, and Sherando came in second, with 343. Senior Doug Smith and junior Jason Gard, the team's No. 3 and No. 4 players, respectively, both shot 89 to lead the team. Senior No. 1 Mike Swan shot 90, and junior No. 2 Ben Smith shot 91.

"I really felt sorry for our seniors because they shot well all year," said Coach Sam Johnson, whose team placed third during the regular season. "Golf is a very humbling game. Sometimes you have a real good day, and everything goes well. But if you have a bad day, everything seems to multiply."

CAPTION: Matt Ryan of seventh-place Broad Run watches iron shot on second hole, qualifies for Northern Regional tournament.