To open its season, Loudoun Valley scored 92 points. Almost a week later, it had 87. For much of the season’s opening act, the Vikings kept scoring and winning, but all the while, Coach Chad Dawson was worrying and fretting.
“I think we started to take some things for granted,” he said.
Loudoun Valley (10-0) hadn’t lost, but Dawson felt it had lost a bit of its way. Points came so freely that the Vikings’ defense didn’t have to be particularly tight to win. So long as standouts Josh Grimard, Paul Rowley and Jovon Miller found the basket – each has gone for at least 20 points this season, somewhat of a telling benchmark for Dawson – they wouldn’t necessarily need to lock down their own.
That bothered Dawson, because he knew his defense could one day win a game in the same way his offense so often has. The Vikings, a team with a towering frontcourt, still had room to grow.
Friday’s 82-37 shellacking of a 7-3 Dominion team offered more than hope. It was music to Dawson’s ears. A symphony of deflected passes and blocked shots — 12 in all between Grimard, Rowley and Miller — showed just what Loudoun Valley can do when it grasps that its sheer size, as its coach described, is “just so huge.”
“Most of those blocks are coming in the painted area,” Dawson said. “It just makes it very difficult when they get their hands up to score over them.”
At some point not all that long ago, holiday tournaments were as much a fixture of Potomac Falls boys’ basketball Coach Jeff Hawes’ winter break as gifts under the Christmas tree.
When he played at Broad Run in the early 1980s, Loudoun County’s annual December tournament was “almost bigger than winning the district,” Hawes recalled. Back then, the county wasn’t as crowded as it is today, and so neither was the schedule.
But as the area’s population boom transformed its sporting scene in countless ways, scheduling flexibility proved a casualty. Virginia teams can play no more than 22 games before postseason play, and in AA Dulles, 18 must be league games.
That crunch has left coaches like Hawes revisiting which holiday tournaments are worthwhile – if they are at all.
“When you’ve got a 1 o’clock game with about 75 people in the whole building, I started bagging playing over Christmas even if I had room to do it. I’d get my team some rest,” said Hawes, whose Panthers last played Dec. 21. “We just took six days off, and I was very nervous the first time I did it, but it’s really turned out to be one of the best things we do every year.”