By Drew Costley
George Mason High School senior forward Stephanie Cheney was named Division 2 co-player of the year by the Virginia High School Coaches Association this past week. Head coach LaBryan Thomas presented Cheney with certificates for that honor and for her selection to the Division 2 All-State First Team on Wednesday at George Mason High School.
“It was an amazing honor,” Cheney said. “We didn’t get to win the state championship, or we didn’t even get there, but playing with my team this year has been phenomenal.”
During the press conference after the state semifinal game the Mustangs lost, Thomas was asked if he thought about substituting her out of the game for there to be a stoppage in play to give her final hurrah in her last game in the George Mason uniform – so she could wave goodbye and get applause from the crowd. He said he thought about it, but that Cheney “is so humble, [that] she would have hated it.”
Cheney said that Thomas, who she has known since she was in middle school because of basketball, is like a “second father figure” to her. Thomas said earlier in the season that the George Mason athletics program functions as a family, which would make her basketball teammates sisters.
“You know I’ve worked so hard throughout my career but I could have never done it without my teammates,” Cheney said. “So I’m really happy I got it but looking back on the season I am just proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
The Mustangs were able to make it back to the Division 2 final four for a sixth consecutive year with Cheney as the only starter that returned from the 2012 team that won the state championship.
Cheney earned Bull Run All-District honors all four years she played varsity. She was an All-District Second Team selection her freshman year. The other three years she was named to the Bull Run All-District, Region B All-Region and Division 2 All-State First Teams and the Bull Run District player of the year. She earned the Region B All-Region player of the year distinction in 2010.
The two-year team captain and 2011-12 All-Met nominee set school records for most points scored (2120), most rebounds (1137) and most blocked shots (426) during her basketball career at George Mason.
Cheney said it is hard to process the realization that her career as a George Mason basketball player is over.
“Even a week after, I was still thinking about it. Even to this day I’m still thinking about it,” she said. “It’s bittersweet. My career at Mason was incredible.”
Cheney will play the guard and small forward positions for the University of Pennsylvania next season. She said she may study economics. She said she will take the leadership skills she developed as a four-year starter at George Mason and apply them on and off the court.
“Since I was a sophomore I’ve been able to take a role on the team and help my teammates out whenever they need it,” she said. “I’ll be able to use that in my entire life, especially in college and playing college basketball.”