By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STERLING -- Dominion boys basketball coach Jason Geyer took a chance late in his team's game against Sherando -- and it paid off.
The Titans chose not to foul down by two points in the final 30 seconds. Back-to-back turnovers by Sherando helped give Dominion a 41-40 boys basketball Conference 21 semifinal win over the Warriors. Dominion advances to next week's 4A North regionals, and will play at Loudoun County today in the Conference 21 final.
"It's amazing," Geyer said. "We decided not to foul, we wanted to try to get a steal and we were able to get it."
The Warriors led 40-36 with 1:24 remaining after a free throw by Sherando's Azjier Outler. The Warriors missed the front end of one-and-ones on back-to-back possessions to keep the lead at four points.
"We had things under control there," Sherando coach Garland Williams said. "If we just make some foul shots we're in good shape, but we didn't make our foul shots."
Two free throws by Colin Jeffrey with 34 seconds left cut the lead to 40-38. The Warriors then turned the ball over, as an errant pass led to a transition 3-pointer by Jeffrey, who holds Dominion's school record for 3-pointers, to put Dominion up 41-40 with 18 seconds remaining.
The Warriors (8-13) still had one last chance. They passed the ball around with hesitation, and another errant pass in the final seconds led to the Titans' win.
"We wanted to get some penetration by our guards. Our guards got a little razzled," Garland Williams said. "I should have called a timeout, or been more vocal from the sidelines."
The game featured a lot of height, as Sherando's 6-foot-7 Grant Golden and 6-foot-8 Jeremiah Curtis were matched up against Dominion's 6-foot-8 Yazeed Atariwa and 6-foot-6 Evan Ferguson. The four big men mostly neutralized each other, but the Titans were able to hit timely shots, and make their free throws.
Dominion went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, while the Warriors were a dismal 5-for-17.
The game was close throughout with neither team holding more than a five-point edge. Sherando's Isaiah Williams and Jordan Henry each hit a 3-pointer late in the third period to help the Warriors take a 35-34 lead going into the fourth period.
The Warriors led the entire fourth period until Jeffrey's 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.
"We knew it would be a one-possession game," Geyer said. "I think in the second half we really showed the character of this team. I'm really proud of this team."
Jeffrey had a game-high 16 points, while Tony Richardson added 10 for the Titans. Geyer said the Titans (14-9) have had plenty of close games this season, and he thinks that will help his team moving forward.
"It's been a while since we've been to regionals. This is great for the program," Geyer said. "Most of our 23 games have been like this. I think we're definitely battle-tested."
Sherando was led by Curtis with eight points and six rebounds, while Golden had seven points and five rebounds.
Garland Williams said despite the loss he was happy with the way his team developed over the course of the season.
"We didn't have as high a number of wins as we would have liked, but I saw improvement throughout the season," he said. "The guys were getting better as the season went on. And that's what I'm looking for."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd