By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team lost 69-56 to Manassas Park High School last Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Bull Run District playoffs.
Manassas Park had beaten the Mustangs 65-48 just two days earlier in the final regular season game for both teams. The Cougars won all of their match-ups against the Mustangs this season.
“The quarterfinal loss was pretty much a mirror image of the game two days earlier,” said Head Coach Chris Capannola. “They made a ton of 3-pointers and we didn’t have the firepower to match that, especially at their place. We weren’t active enough in our zone and they made us pay for it.”
Capannola said the Mustangs had match-up problems against the Cougars when they tried to defend them using a man-to-man defense in their Feb. 5 game.
“They dictated to us what defense we had to play due to their quickness,” Capannola said. “They spread us out and hit big shots.” Manassas Park also played a zone against George Mason, which limited the effectiveness of the Mustangs’ offense.
Senior forward Will Nunley scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Cougars and sophomore guard Doug Mason scored 17 points.
“We went into the game pretty confident,” said senior guard Nick Bourbeau. “Coach drew up some new plays for us and we thought they were going to have an effect.”
The Cougars ended the Mustangs’ season with a 7-8 overall record against district opponents and a 7-15 record including preseason and mid-season tournaments.
“It was a rough year, especially coming off the success of the last two years,” Capannola said. The Mustangs won 48 games in the previous two seasons, including two runs to the state tournament, but lost nine seniors from the team last season that lost in the state championship. This season, the Mustangs played with as many underclassmen as seniors.
“It’s rare that a team of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors can mold into a true team after only three months,” Capannola said. “We made great strides and I’m real excited about the future, and I’m really proud of the six seniors who had to step in and lead us.”
The Mustangs’ junior varsity team finished with a 15-3 season, which bodes well for the future of the program. ‘
“They were very reminiscent of the JV team from five years ago that went on to such great things as varsity players,” Capannola said. Almost the entire senior class that the Mustangs’ lost last season, including Noel Obusan, the Bull Run district player of the year and a first team all-district selection, and Nate Ogle, a first team all-district selection, were on that team.
“Now that they have this season under their belts, with a lot of the young guys getting significant minutes, we should see the confidence level and the execution level go up pretty quickly if they will put in the time between now and next November,” Capannola said.
Freshman guard Elliot Mercado was one of three underclassmen who got considerable playing time this season.
“Next year, I think we’ll be pretty good,” Mercado said. “I think the year after that we’re going to make a run to states.”