by Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team lost two games this past week, which extended the team’s home losing streak to three games.
The Mustangs suffered a 55-47 loss against district rival Manassas Park High School last Thursday. Sophomore guard Doug Mason, an emerging scoring threat for George Mason, was out with an illness. Senior guard Nick Bourbeau led the Mustangs in scoring with 11 points and senior forward Will Nunley grabbed nine rebounds.
“It was one of the tougher losses we’ve had in quite a few years in my opinion, especially with so much at stake,” said Coach Chris Capannola. That game put the Mustangs under .500 against district rivals.
The next night, the Mustangs lost 59-47 to Ad Fontes Academy, a private Christian school located in Centreville. According to Capannola, the Falcons’ 6’9’’ junior center Sam Berlin “neutralized Will Nunley to a great degree.” Nunley, the Mustangs’ most consistent scoring threat, only scored six points against the Falcons. Berlin scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Mustangs.
Three Mustangs – senior forward Rand Walter, sophomore guard Sam Selby, and freshman guard Elliot Mercado – scored eight points apiece and combined for six 3-pointers.
In many of George Mason’s losses this season the Mustangs have had a tough time closing out the game in the fourth quarter, as was the case last Friday. The Mustangs were down 44-43 going into the fourth quarter against the Falcons, but were outscored 15-4 in the final period. A similar scenario played out the night before against the Cougars.
“When that happens over and over the kids are sort of waiting for it to happen, like ‘uh oh, here we go again,’” Capannola said. “They lose confidence in their ability to make baskets, and their frustration leads to either not shooting at all or forcing things.”
After the first game of a holiday tournament the Mustangs played in earlier this season, Capannola openly questioned the team’s desire to be out on the court. But after the latest losing streak, he said the team’s problems are “not an effort thing at all; it’s execution and poise and all those little things.”
“We have not played a complete game since we beat Madison at home over a month ago,” Capannola said. “We play really well for long stretches then go into scoring droughts that come on so quickly we can’t seem to realize them or get out of them.”
According to Capannola, the team has been watching film to study the problems that Capannola has been pointing out for the past month.
The Mustangs traveled to Madison County High School for a district match-up against the Mountaineers Wednesday, but results were not available at press time. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Mustangs have a 3-4 record in the district. After traveling to Madison County, the team has a three game home stand: they play The Avalon School on Thursday, Clarke County High School on Friday, and Central High School next Wednesday.