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Despite rallies, Kettle Run boys basketball season ends with region loss to Loudoun Valley

Monday, Feb. 24 | By Jeff Malmgren

Kettle Run lost 58-49 to Loudoun Valley in
the Class 3A East Region quarterfinals.
--Photo By Rick Wasser
The Kettle Run Cougars thrived Monday when they had an obstacle to climb.

Unfortunately, they added to the height of that obstacle as they scaled it, like constructing a skyscraper.

Kettle Run never could quite reach the top and ended up losing to the Loudoun Valley Vikings, 58-49, during the quarterfinals of the 3A East Region boys basketball tournament on the road in Purcellville.

The Cougars overcame their initial obstacle – a 9-0 deficit midway through the first quarter – by going on a 10-0 run. So they ended the first period with an 11-10 lead and then maintain that advantage entering halftime, 21-20.

But Kettle Run faced a further challenge early in the third quarter. The Vikings began that period with a 10-0 run and later expanded their lead to as large as 14 points early in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars, however, continued to climb and narrowed that deficit to 49-44,

“I wasn’t ready for this to be over,” Kettle Run senior Brandon Deliee said.

His Cougars eventually ran out of time, though.

“We fought hard to get back into it – just didn’t execute at the right moments,” fellow senior Justus Drakeford said.

The loss ended the careers of eight Kettle Run seniors, while Loudoun Valley advanced to play in the region semifinals against John Marshall, which beat New Kent in the quarterfinals, 104-42.

“We’ll definitely have our work cut out for us,” Vikings coach Chad Dawson said of John Marshall. “This was a great test tonight because I think [Kettle Run was] more athletic than us, too.”

Loudoun Valley improved its record to 20-4, while the Cougars finished with a 15-7 mark.

“We wanted to get far beyond this,” Kettle Run coach Troy Washington said of the quarterfinals. “It’s not where we wanted to be, but you can’t look back on it and say [the season] was not successful.”

Earlier, Kettle Run placed second in the Conference 27 tournament and took third during the regular season.

The Cougars also ended last season with a quarterfinal loss, 76-70, to Monticello in the Region II tournament. They did improve their record this season, though, after going 12-13 last season.

“Yeah, we could have done more, but … we love each other; played hard,” Deliee said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

“I’m always going to look back on it with fond memories just because this is a special group,” Washington said. “A lot of these kids have been around all four years.”

Kettle Run’s seniors went out valiantly. Deliee, Drakeford and Danny Mattson, for example, ignited one final rally during the fourth quarter. Loudoun Valley took a 45-31 lead with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the period, but the Cougars responded with three consecutive 3-pointers.

“There was no quit in them,” Dawson said. “That was apparent when I felt like we had a sizable lead and they hit three straight.”

Deliee made the first 3-pointer off the dribble with 6:21 remaining. Then Mattson made one off a swing pass from Rashawn Latimer with 5:55 remaining.

Sixty-eight seconds later, Deliee took a pass from Drakefield and made a 3-pointer from about 22 feet away to narrow Kettle Run’s deficit to 45-40.

“We just needed a spark,” Deliee said. “I knew it was going in. … I wasn’t ready to be done.”

Loudoun Valley, however, responded by going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to regain a nine point lead.

“We wanted it bad,” Drakeford said. “We just needed one more stop.”

Regardless, Drakefield did get the Cougars’ deficit back down to five points by making a dribble jumper and assisting a Mattson jumper with 2:32 remaining.

“Might as well leave everything on the court; have no regrets,” said Drakeford, a guard who came off the bench to finish with six points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Kettle Run never got closer than, 49-44, though.

“Yeah, there was still a shot to get back in it, but I just thought too many things were set up to overcome,” Washington said.

Namely, Loudoun Valley’s 9-0 run to start the game and 10-0 run to begin the third quarter.

Kettle Run had eight empty possessions during the first six minutes of the game: blocked shot, turnover, turnover, missed layup, missed layup, missed jump shot, turnover, air-ball 3-pointer.

“Getting off to the slow start – I think nerves were part of it,” Washington said. “We got some looks in the lane and just didn’t finish.”

The Vikings took their 9-0 lead on a pair of 3-pointers by 6-foot-8 forward Paul Rowley and one by 6-0 guard Michael Irving. Loudoun Valley then had only one 3-pointer over the next 15 minutes.

“We started playing a little bit with fool’s gold there with the 3-pointer,” Dawson said. “We hit those first three, and that sometimes makes you feel like you’re doing more than you are. “

Latimer sparked Kettle Run’s comeback with consecutive 3-pointers during the final 70 seconds of the first quarter, both off passes from Drakeford. Latimer later made another 3-pointer to give the Cougars’ their largest lead, 19-17.

“It felt like the way momentum had shifted that we should be up more than one [point] at the end of the first half,” Washington said.

Kettle Run needed a bigger lead. It committed 11 turnovers in the second half after having only three before halftime. Loudoun Valley often utilized a zone defense in the second half.

“We’re not getting our hands on any deflections” in the first half, Dawson said. “That’s part of our game. We discussed that and tried to show them where there were some opportunities to get some steals.”

Darius DeGree and Trey McDyre finished with three steals each for Loudoun Valley, while Rowley had 20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Irving added 17 points, while DeGree had nine. McDyre added seven rebounds, six points and three assists.

For Kettle Run, Latimer had 12 points, Mattson had 10, Deliee had eight and David Eldridge had six. Mattson also had 10 rebounds and two steals, while Deliee had two assists.

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