No District Champ Named After Mason vs. Clarke Co. Girls Basketball Game Cancelled
By Drew Costley
The Bull Run District championship game was cancelled last week because of the snowstorm that hit the East Coast, and George Mason High School’s girls varsity basketball team was not happy about it. The George Mason Mustangs were slated to play district rival Clarke County High School last Wednesday in a rematch of the 2013 district tournament championship that Mason won. Going into the game, the Mustangs were tied with the Eagles for the Bull Run District regular season title.
“It makes me so mad, I don’t think you understand,” said George Mason junior forward Katie Goodwin as she half-gaped, half-smiled. “We were literally on the bus and Coach T gets on the bus – he’s like ‘we can’t go’ – I literally was this close to crying. I was so upset, because I know that we can beat Clarke.”
Goodwin said she and her teammates commiserated their missed opportunity with each other at a team hangout after learning the game was cancelled.
The Bull Run District does not award a regular season title in the case of a tie at the end of the regular season. Because the championship game was cancelled, a postseason champion was not crowned either.
The Clarke County Eagles earned the top seeding and first round bye in the Conference 35 tournament because they had a better overall record in the regular season. Their only two losses came at the hands of district competitors while the Mustangs lost two games to district competitors and both matches they played against Woodgrove High School.
“I wish we could have played, but it’s one of those things. It happens,” said George Mason Head Coach LaBryan Thomas. “You’re dealt the cards and you just have to play them.”
The Mustangs started off the Conference 35 tournament on Monday with a lopsided 38-23 victory over Stonewall Jackson High School. They opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never led by less than double digits after that.
“Right off the bat we put a press on them and we had them turn the ball over a few times and got some easy baskets,” Thomas said. “But when we got into our set offense we didn’t run things the way we should tonight.”
The Stonewall Jackson Generals were scoreless until the 1:25 mark of the second quarter when Generals center Kayla Miller scored from the low post. The score was 16-2 at that point. The Mustangs finished the first half with a 27-6 lead.
Stonewall Jackson Head Coach Jeff Burner said his team, which was 0-22 this season, had nothing to lose despite being down by so much after the first half. He told his team to play hard for what became the last 16 minutes of their season.
“We showed great effort the entire season, and I’m really proud of that,” Burner said. “Because it’s really easy to quit on things. This group of kids did not do that.”
On the other end of the score table, Thomas was not pleased with the way the Mustangs played.
“We played awful. We just didn’t have any energy tonight,” Thomas said. “I mean our second squad played better than our first squad and it shouldn’t be that way. So I’m not too happy about this game.”
The Generals cut the Mustangs’ lead to 12 points with 6:19 left in the fourth quarter when Thomas called a timeout and benched every player on the court, all but one of whom were starters.
“The second group played harder than the first group,” Thomas said. “Kudos to them because they worked hard – and why not give them the chance to get the playing time if the first group’s not playing well?”
Goodwin was the leading scorer for either team in the match with 14 points. George Mason freshman guard Coral Gillette followed that up with nine points against the Generals. Makayla Turner was the Generals’ leading scorer with eight points and was followed by Jayne Kokonen, who scored six points.
The Mustangs move on to the semifinals of the Conference 35 tournament tonight to play Luray High School. Because they advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament, the Mustangs qualified for the Region 2A East tournament, which starts next Tuesday.