By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s girls varsity basketball team beat two district opponents before losing to a fellow defending state champion in the past week.
Last Wednesday, the Mustangs beat a fierce district rival from last season, Central High School, in a 74-48 blow-out at home.
“We played really well. We started out attacking the basket really well and kind of took them out of their rhythm because they like to run up and down the floor,” said Coach LaBryan Thomas. “That’s why we didn’t play a lot of man – we didn’t play any man tonight. We knew the zone would kind of slow their best shooter down, so we played the zone and I was right, it slowed her down.”
Senior forward Stephanie Cheney led the Mustangs in scoring with 18 points against the Falcons. Sophomore forward Katie Goodwin contributed 10 points, and junior guard Julianna Rollo added eight.
“I think if we finished a little bit better the game could have been even further apart, but overall it was a good team game and I think we moved the ball well,” Cheney said.
The Mustangs then trampled over the hosting Strasburg High School Rams in a 46-24 victory last Friday. Cheney scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against Strasburg, a team Thomas described as very well-coached but young. He said the Mustangs were able to take advantage of the Rams’ lack of experience.
George Mason’s match-up against the visiting East Rockingham High School squad last Saturday was the real test for the Mustangs. Junior Jaya Chavern, half of the Mustangs’ back court, and senior Taylor Briese, an important senior leader for George Mason, went on vacation for the holidays and did not play in the game. During the game, sophomore guard Ava Roth bumped heads with an East Rockingham player and had to be benched, though she came back later. Goodwin, who bruised her knee in a game against Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School earlier this season, left the game against the Eagles, but not before scoring 23 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Against the Eagles, Cheney scored 18 points and Rollo scored eight.
George Mason ended the first half ahead by 11 against the Eagles, but the injuries to Roth and Goodwin in the third quarter opened the door for East Rockingham to go on a 21-7 run from which the Mustangs would never recover. The Mustangs ended up losing 63-53 to the Eagles. With the absence of three Mustang starters at one point in the game against the Eagles, some of George Mason’s freshman got the experience to play in a highly competitive, non-district contest.
“Our young kids understand the high caliber of play outside of the district now,” Thomas said. “It will help them going back into district play.”
The Mustangs will play in the Pohanka Chantilly Classic tournament tomorrow through Saturday. Their first game is against Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology today at Chantilly High School.