By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s girls varsity basketball team is 1-2 after two challenging match-ups during its first week of regular season games. The Mustangs lost to Bull Run District rival Clarke County High School 63-60 last Wednesday. On Friday, the Mustangs dominated Manassas Park High School 72-5 but lost to Woodgrove High School 59-54 the next night.
Last season the Mustangs beat the Clarke County Eagles all four times they faced them and beat them by at least 10 points in three out of the four match-ups. But a lack of intensity at the beginning of the game from the Mustangs (1-2, 1-1) helped the Eagles (2-0, 2-0) climb to an early 14-point lead, according to Mustang Head Coach LaBryan Thomas.
“We came out flat and weren’t ready to play, and it cost us,” Thomas said.
The Mustangs were down by as much as 17 points, but they fought back and even took the lead with 1:12 left in the game. Thomas said that poor free-throw shooting at the end of the game hurt the Mustangs.
Foul trouble also affected the team’s ability to defend the Eagles late in the game. Junior forward Katie Goodwin and freshman forward Maddie Cherry both fouled out of that game, and several other Mustangs had four fouls.
“When you take Katie off the floor – and people in the district know she’s our go-to person – it’s tough,” Thomas said. “And then losing a ninth grader and good player like Maddie Cherry that plays the same position, that’s even tougher.”
Goodwin was the Mustangs’ top scorer against the Eagles with 15 points. She also had six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. Freshman guard Coral Gillette scored 12 points, three of which were 3-pointers, and grabbed five rebounds in the match.
Senior guard Jaya Chavern scored nine points and made three assists against the Eagles. Junior forward Micaela Albright scored nine points in the game and was the Mustangs’ leading rebounder with eight boards.
Manassas Park (0-3, 0-1) proved to be a much less challenging opponent for the Mustangs and allowed them to work on things they had done wrong in the game against the Eagles.
The Mustangs opened the game with a nine-point run and started running a full-court press after an early Panthers timeout. That press helped the Mustangs sprint to a 19-3 lead by the end of the first quarter. By the end of the first half, they had nine steals and were off to a 43-4 lead.
Albright and Goodwin led the Mustangs in scoring against the Panthers with 10 points each. Goodwin had eight rebounds and two steals to Albright’s four rebounds and three steals, and both players had a block. Chavern, Gillette, and junior forward Gen Schmitt each scored nine points against the Panthers. Gillette hit three of four 3-pointers for her share of the scoring.
While causing early turnovers was a key to the Mustangs’ victory over the Panthers, committing early turnovers shackled the team in its loss to Woodgrove. They turned the ball over 18 times in the first half and were down by as much as 13 points towards the end of the first quarter against the Wolverines (2-0, 1-0).
“Too many turnovers, it hurt us because we made good runs coming back,” Thomas said. “We just got to learn to take care of the ball, but we’re young. We’ll get over that. We’ll correct that.”
The Mustangs closed the Wolverines’ first quarter lead to three points by the end of the first half. Outscoring the Wolverines 20-12 in the second quarter resulted in a 33-30 score.
Senior guard Julianna Rollo tied the game in the first minute of the second half with a 3-pointer. A few minutes later Chavern passed the ball to Goodwin, who was slashing through the lane and scored a bucket to put the Mustangs ahead 41-40.
The Mustangs led from that point in the third quarter until midway through the fourth when senior forward Halle Lynch scored two points to put the Wolverines ahead. They led for the rest of the game. Woodgrove Head Coach Kevin Copley said his team didn’t panic despite losing the lead for a big chunk of the second half.
“They had a three- or four-point lead at one point,” Copley said. “But you know there was plenty of time left, and we just ran our offense, played good defense, and we knew we could chip away and comeback and pull off the lead.”
Lynch scored 11 points against the Mustangs, but junior guard Brooke Basinger led the Wolverines in scoring with 18 points in the game.
Goodwin led the Mustangs in scoring with 12 points, and grabbed four rebounds and had five assists for the Mustangs. Rollo scored 11 points and hit three of her five 3-point attempts. Gillette was only two for nine behind the arc, but added 10 points to the Mustangs’ effort.
The Mustangs play William Monroe High School on the road tonight. The Mustangs play Central High School on Friday at home, at Broad Run High School on Monday, and then at Rappahannock County High School next Wednesday.