By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s girls varsity basketball team is in first place in the Bull Run District after beating Clarke County High School 46-38 on Tuesday. The Mustangs (9-4, 7-1) outscored the Eagles (8-2, 6-2) 14-6 in the fourth quarter to avenge an early season 63-60 loss.
In the first matchup between the district rivals, the Mustangs committed 22 turnovers and missed 23 free throws. In the grudge match, the Mustangs committed 15 turnovers and missed 11 free throws.
“It was a different game tonight,” Mason Head Coach LaBryan Thomas said after the game. “We actually put 11 people on the floor and just kept rotating and I think that wore them down.”
The Mustangs jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first quarter before the Eagles took control of the game’s pace and outscored George Mason 13-6 through the remainder of the quarter. Neither team found the basket much in the second quarter – the first score didn’t come until 3:24 in the period – and the Eagles finished the first half with a 19-18 lead.
Thomas said he told the Mustangs during halftime to stay focused and keep playing.
“I think we had them on the ropes and all we had to do was battle and knock them off,” Thomas said.
The second half – with four lead changes and four tying scores – was indeed a battle. A key player for the Mustangs in that quarter was senior guard Julianna Rollo, who scored the first and last points of the period.
Rollo hit a 3-pointer to put the Mustangs ahead on the first play of the second half and hit another with less than 10 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 32. Then Rollo hit her third and final 3-pointer of the game early in the fourth quarter to put the Mustangs ahead 35-32.
“When I make a three … it always picks me up, and it transfers to everyone else and transfers to the overall attitude of the team,” Rollo said.
The Eagles tied the game up on their next trip down the court with a 3-pointer from junior forward Sydney Chrane, who led all scorers with 17 points, but they didn’t lead for the rest of the game.
Junior forward Micaela Albright led the Mustangs in scoring with 12 points. Rollo followed with nine points and junior forward Katie Goodwin added eight points to the Mustangs’ effort.
The Mustangs extended their regular season win streak to seven games this week with the victory on Tuesday and a 48-40 defeat of Warren County High School last Wednesday.
“Our team has been getting better every game,” Thomas said. “Our turnovers are starting to come down, our focus is starting to get better, and I think the team chemistry is really getting where it’s supposed to be.”
Chavern scored the first point of the game against the Wildcats from the free-throw line, then the Mustangs got down 4-1. They quickly regained the lead, though – on a two-point bucket from freshman Coral Gillette and a 3-pointer from Rollo – and didn’t trail for the rest of the game.
The Mustangs hit eight 3-pointers as a team, seven of which came from Gillette, Goodwin, and Chavern.
“They got a lot of 3-point shots on us tonight. They were pretty hot outside,” said John Kelly, head coach of the Wildcats. “And we couldn’t hit shots besides the layups.”
Gillette led the Mustangs in scoring with a career-high 16 points against the Wildcats. Goodwin followed that with 12 points and Chavern added nine points. The win against the Wildcats was the first game the Mustangs had played in 11 days after placing sixth in the Pohanka Chantilly Classic.
“I guess sometimes I just go out there and it will fall for me and that’s all I can hope for,” Gillette said. “I almost felt out of shape because of the break. … I just felt off, but I guess I did OK.”
The Mustangs are slated to travel to Manassas Park High School to play the Cougars tomorrow night and travel to Woodgrove High School for a rematch against the Wildcats on Saturday. On Monday, they conclude their road series with a match at Madison County High School. Then, the Mustangs return home on Tuesday to take on William Monroe High School.