A swarming Mustang defense garnered 21 steals as the George Mason High School varsity girls’ basketball team held visiting Briar Woods to just two points in the opening eight minutes, coasting to a 62-38 victory in a non-district contest Wednesday night.
Mason held the Falcons to without a field goal in the first 9:24 of the game. The Mustangs opened on a 20-2 run, surging ahead thanks to a combination of turnovers and transition layups. Though Briar Woods go to the free-throw line 17 times in the first half, it was only able to convert on 10 of those.
Briar Woods staged a little run in the third quarter, managing to outscore the Mustangs 20-19 in the period, but the 17-point margin at halftime proved too insurmountable for the AA Dulles District squad. The Falcons got as close as 14 points thanks to a flurry of three-pointers, but managed to score just four total points in the final quarter.
“Everybody was on the same page [in the first and fourth quarters,]” Mason coach LaBryan Thomas said. “The younger kids, in the fourth quarter, those who don’t get to play a lot, they had their chance and they stepped up especially defensive-wise. The key to our whole season thus far has been our defensive pressure. When we play well on the defensive end, everything rolls for us.”
Briar Woods had just nine total field goals and six combined points in the first and fourth quarters. Switching to a 1-3-1 zone in the second quarter saw the beginning of the Falcons’ spurt and small comeback take shape.
“Most people don’t play a zone and I guess we’re going to be practicing that because we did struggle against it,” Thomas said. “Most play us man-to-man so I guess it’s my fault we weren’t as prepared as we should be against a zone.”
“It was just a lack of focus,” he said. “It was a long school day for the team, but it is what it is. They got it together in the fourth when it counted.”
Senior Nicole Mitchell led all scoring with 16 points, recording another double-double by adding on 10 rebounds. Sophomore Lauren Kane tacked on 13 points while classmate Bria Platenburg added eight. Senior Chantal Thomas had eight points and four assists, and freshman Stepanie Cheney chipped in seven points. All told, the Mustangs’ bench out-scored Briar Woods’ 23-7.
The meeting was a far cry from the last time the two units squared off, a 54-32 Mason victory at Briar Woods last Wednesday.
Mason (10-2) has little time to rest, as it plays host to Madison County High School tomorrow night. The Mountaineers, fresh off a 36-32 victory over Manassas Park, a team the Mustangs trumped last week 75-36, sit at 1-1 in the Bull Run and look to play spoiler to the defending District, Region B, and Division-II state champions.
“Like I told them, they have to go home, get their homework done, and get in the bed because we’ll be right back here tomorrow,” Thomas said. “District games are always important. In our district, you can’t underestimate anybody, because on any given night anybody in our district can win a game, so we just don’t want to be a victim.”