Falcons fall to Loudoun Valley

PURCELLVILLE — It was a bittersweet locker room for Central’s girls basketball team Thursday night after their season had come to an end in the Conference 28 semifinal game at Loudoun Valley High School.

Central was the third seed and Valley was a No. 2 in the tournament that also featured Warren County and John Champe. Already, the Falcons had lost to Loudoun Valley by 17 points during the regular season, so the 79-37 verdict by the Vikings (17-7) over the Falcons (17-8) was perhaps expected. Still, it was the final game of the season for the visitors and their loyal fans who followed their team to Purcellville to see if they could steal a semifina. victory and accompanying Region 3A East postseason tournament bid.

However, the home team took those honors and was scheduled to meet the winner of top-seeded John Champe on Friday.

The Vikings put on a clinic after a competitive first quarter to sweep their series with the Falcons this season. They dropped 29 points on their visitors in the decisive third quarter in a game where four of their members hit double figures.

Four-year varsity veteran Kailey Liverman led all scorers with 19 points, followed by teammate Rachel Bowyer (17), Celine Fink (14) Lindsey Sweet (10) and Brendy Garcia (8). Liverman and Bowyer are seniors. Keane and Sweet are juniors.

Central saw double figures from Cianne Fields (12) and Ayanna Strother 11. Tamra Scott added eight points, six rebounds and five steals.

“It is bittersweet because, while it’s the end of the season, we’re all coming back next year, so we’ve got that. We just have to come back harder and strong for next season,” said Strother, a freshman.

While the home team had 12 players dressed, including nine upperclassmen, Central was down to eight. The Falcons have no senior members of the team. Falcons guard Brooke Sager, a sophomore, missed the game with a foot injury. On top of that, coach Mallory Skarupa missed the contest. She was taking care of “personal business,” according to Central assistant Sarah Swartz.

“So without Brooke, who really kept this team together, and coach Skarupa, we were fighting some things, but that’s no excuse. I didn’t think we played with the same effort [tonight] as we did when we played them during the regular season,” Swartz said.

Central led one time all night. This came after back-to-back traditional three-point plays by Strother and Fields for an 8-7 difference with 2:22 left in the first frame. But Liverman, Kirsten Graves and Bowyer finished with a rush. Their consecutive field goals made it 13-8 at quarter’s end.

Fields opened the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws to cut the difference to three, but Loudoun Valley went on a 14-4 run to go ahead 27-14 with 2:35 to go in the half. Of those 14 tallies, Liverman produced four straight buckets. Mar Keane’s basket with 17 seconds left put the Vikings ahead 29-14.

From there, Valley seemed to take target range as the Vikings hustled out to a 37-17 advantage to open the third period.

The Vikings ended up banging in 38 field goals and recorded a 6-for-11 effort at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Falcons hit just nine field goals. They were 16-of-30 from the free-throw line, as all but 21 points came from the line.

“I think we were ready to get on top of them with our press a little bit and force some steals and points that way. Then we continued to shoot well throughout the game,” said Loudoun Valley coach Kenyamo McFarlane.

“Hopefully what we can learn from this is that you have to battle all the time. We played hard, but when it started to get away from us we pulled back,” said Swartz. “Hopefully we’ll learn from it, and move on.”