The Vikings host AA Dulles District foil Heritage in Purcelville at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Region II Div. 4 tournament. It will be the fourth meeting between the two Western Loudoun teams this winter.
“They always say it’s tough to play a team three times in one year, and now this will be the fourth time,” Heritage Coach Greg Grimes said. “We definitely know each other.”
Loudoun Valley (23-3) is 2-1 in the season series, first overcoming a three-point deficit at the half to win a 61-54 contest on Dec. 21.
Each team won its home game against the other, but Loudoun Valley won a neutral-site showdown when it held Heritage (17-7) to one point in the fourth quarter of a 57-36 win in the second round of the district tournament at Tuscarora.
Grimes knows his team can’t afford to start like it did in the last matchup. The Vikings came out shooting and built a 21-9 lead in the first quarter.
All those quick buckets allowed time for Loudoun Valley to set up its transition defense, which was a sore spot for the Vikings in their loss to the Pride.
“We played our tempo,” Loudoun Valley Coach Chad Dawson said. “They have very good athletes. I think our kids recognized that we need to play at our speed, not their speed.”
For Dawson’s players, that means closing out on the perimeter and contesting shots by Heritage scorers such as junior Zach Coffman, who scored 32 points in the Pride’s regular season win, or Mister Lewis (14.5 points per game).
Loudoun Valley’s potent frontcourt poses the biggest threat to Heritage.
Senior swingman Josh Grimard scored 17, 18 and 20 points against Heritage this year. Junior Paul Rowley tallied a season-high 27 points in the loss at Heritage and has the hot hand after burning Potomac Falls for 20 first-half points in the district tournament final.
As the No. 3 seed, Loudoun Valley is the favorite, but No. 6 Heritage has one thing going for it. Along with Potomac Falls, the Pride is one of only two teams to topple the Vikings this season, which should give them all the confidence they need for Tuesday’s elimination contest.
“Our guys know we can do it,” Grimes said, “which is a big thing going into a playoff game.”