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The Loudoun Report: boys basketball

It's an ultra-light week in Loudoun as students are in the midst of exams. There are no games scheduled until Friday night when the top two teams in the Dulles and Liberty Districts duke it out for league supremacy as we cross the halfway point of league schedules.

Today we'll take a look at the lay of the land in all three districts involving Loudoun teams and highlight the games of the week for each.


Loudoun Valley needs more production from go-to scorers like Django DeGree to climb the AAA Cedar Run standings. (Tracy A. Woodward, TWP)

AA Dulles
After Potomac Falls swept Park View in back-to-back meetings last week, the Dulles is officially a two-team race between the Panthers and Broad Run. Potomac Falls (15-1, 8-0) won the first meeting between the two last month on Zach Curran's last-second three-pointer and the Spartans have been smarting ever since. Neither team has lost since that meeting and both have handled the other district foes without a terrible amount of difficulty.

That brings us to Friday night, when the Panthers travel to Ashburn to take on Kevin McGaughey and a balanced, experienced Broad Run team. On the surface, the two are very different, but both have similar tendencies within the flow of the game. The Spartans' starting lineup features seniors McGaughey and slasher Ahmad Zafar along with juniors Taylor Johnson and Eric Hiatt and sophomore DaDa Johnson. They rely on a perimeter attack and feed off turnovers and transition buckets. Meantime Potomac Falls has just two seniors on its entire roster and starts four juniors and a sophomore. The Panthers used pressure defense to turn the tide in the first meeting and at times are more proficient in the half court, although they also like to get up and down the floor. Potomac Falls continues to rely on junior Lukas Mihailovich (21.25 ppg) but has developed more balance of late with increased production from sophomore center Greg Graves and junior guard Brandon Chesson.

Should the Spartans (16-1, 6-1) hold serve at home, it could set up a one-game neutral site playoff to determine the regular season champion and the top seed for the district tournament.

Elsewhere in the league, Park View looks like it could reach the Region II tournament for a second consecutive season -- this time at the Division 3 level. The Patriots' only losses in district play have come at the hands of the top two teams. After a hot start to the season, Briar Woods (6-9, 3-5) has cooled off considerably. Believe it or not, Myles Tate and the Falcons still have the inside track to hosting their first ever district tournament game and a late-season run could propel them into the playoffs. Dominion, Freedom and Loudoun County are all bunched up at the bottom of the standings but each has the potential to play spoiler down the stretch.

Game of the week: No. 20 Potomac Falls at Broad Run, Friday, 7:30
For all the reasons mentioned above and a few more which will be mentioned later this week.

AAA Cedar Run
This new five-team version of the Cedar Run District has not been kind to league veterans Loudoun Valley or newcomer Heritage. The Pride have yet to notch their first district win and the Vikings' lone victory came against their Leesburg neighbors. Last week, Osbourn (13-4, 4-1) went a half-game up on Stonewall Jackson (8-7, 3-1) for the lead in the district, but the Eagles -- who lost their first meeting with the Raiders -- will likely need to beat Battlefield (7-9, 3-1) Friday at home and take out Stonewall on Feb. 2 to win the regular season title outright.

As for Loudoun's representatives, the Vikings (8-7, 1-4) have won four of six, including a pair against Dulles District opponents. If Valley was still in the Dulles, chances are they'd be right in the thick of the title hunt. The Vikings are 5-2 against their former league-mates with the two losses coming to Broad Run. They remain the only team to have knocked off Potomac Falls. But their struggles this season have primarily stemmed from a lack of consistency on the offensive end. Junior Brandon Bunce has taken over at point guard after the graduation of Drew MacMahon and has played well at times, but the offense lacks some of the explosiveness it featured last year with MacMahon running the show. Senior guard Django DeGree and sophomore forward John Yoxthimer both average just over 10 points per game for a team that scores a mere 52.5 per night. They make up for it on the defensive end with size -- six players 6-4 or taller -- and toughness on the inside, but in order to make a run in the final weeks of the regular season, the Vikings will need to find the hoop with more regularity on the offensive end.

Up the road at Heritage, second-year coach Greg Grimes is dealing with the difficulty of moving up to the AAA level after losing his top two scorers. The Pride (3-9, 0-4) also appear to be longing for their old digs -- their three wins have come against Loudoun County, Dominion and Park View, all of the Dulles District -- while they've lost all four league contests by at least 19 points. Despite being led in scoring by seniors Elijah Calhoun, Ross Alcorn and Eric Dentler, the Pride are relatively young and also lack the size of their district foes. No one who receives significant minutes is taller than 6-2, which results in a serious disadvantage in the pain and on the boards against bigger teams like the Vikings. Heritage's second turn through the league is broken up by three more games against Dulles teams where they'll look to build some confidence going into the Cedar Run tournament.

Game of the week: Battlefield at Osbourn, 7:30
Two one-loss teams battle for the top spot in the district.


Nik Brown has the Bulldogs playing their best basketball to date. (Richard A. Lipski, TWP)

AAA Liberty
It was only a matter of time before Stone Bridge's pair of talented transfers of a year ago meshed with the rest of the roster to form a district contender, but few expected this much progress from Coach Sonny Green's squad in 2009-10. Led by senior guard Richie Berry (19 ppg) and the county's top scorer, junior guard Nik Brown (22), both of whom transferred from private schools prior to last season, the Bulldogs (11-5, 7-2) are enjoying their best season to date and find themselves just two games behind Langley in the Liberty standings.

In their first meeting back on Jan. 4, the Saxons -- who have not lost in 2010 -- took it to Stone Bridge, rolling to a 72-46 win behind 20 points from Austin Kriz and three more double-figure scorers. Brown had a typical 20-point performance of his own but the Bulldogs lacked balance offensively as no other player scored more than seven and Berry was held to a season-low five points. Stone Bridge trailed by just three at the half but was outscored 29-4 in the decisive third quarter. For them to have a shot at their first ever district crown, they'll need to turn the tables on the Saxons Friday night.

Behind the top two, Marshall (8-6, 6-2) is also within striking distance after hammering the Bulldogs 85-68 last Tuesday.

Game of the week: Langley at Stone Bridge, 7:30
The Bulldogs get another shot at the first place Saxons, this time in Ashburn.

Standings

Dulles District
------------------------------League-----Overall
1. Potomac Falls-----------8-0-----------15-1
2. Broad Run---------------6-1----------16-1
3. Park View----------------4-3-----------10-7
4. Briar Woods-------------3-5-----------6-9
5. Dominion-----------------2-6-----------3-14
5. Freedom-----------------2-6-----------4-14
5. Loudoun County--------2-6-----------7-9

Cedar Run District
------------------------------League-----Overall

1. Osbourn-----------------4-1-----------13-4
2. Stonewall Jackson-----3-1------------8-7
2. Battlefield----------------3-1------------7-9
4. Loudoun Valley---------1-4-----------8-7
5. Heritage------------------0-4-----------3-9

Liberty District
------------------------------League-----Overall
1. Langley-------------------8-0-----------13-2
2. Stone Bridge------------7-2-----------11-5
3. Marshall------------------6-2-----------8-6
4. Fairfax--------------------4-4------------6-9
4. South Lakes------------4-4------------6-9
6. McLean------------------2-6------------6-10
7. Thomas Jefferson-----2-6------------5-10
8. Madison-----------------0-9-----------1-14

The week ahead
Friday
Dominion at Briar Woods, 7:30
Langley at Stone Bridge, 7:30
Loudoun Valley at Washington, 7:30
Park View at Loudoun County, 7:30
No. 20 Potomac Falls at Broad Run, 7:30
Stonewall Jackson at Heritage, 7:30

Saturday
Loudoun Valley at Loudoun County, 7:30

By Matt Brooks  |  January 25, 2010; 11:52 PM ET
Categories:  AA Dulles , AAA Cedar Run District , AAA Liberty District , Battlefield , Boys' Basketball , Briar Woods , Broad Run , Dominion , Freedom South-Riding , Heritage , Langley , Loudoun County High School , Loudoun Valley High School , Marshall , Osbourn , Park View , Potomac Falls , Stone Bridge High School , Stonewall Jackson  
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