George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team notched an important win last week with a 51-38 victory over Clarke County High School. Before the game, Clarke County trailed George Mason by a game in the Bull Run District standings and could have tied the Mustangs for the lead in the district if they won last Friday.
“We knew we had to win,” said senior forward Nate Ogle, who led the Mustangs in scoring with 16 points against the Eagles. “Clarke has always been good no matter what.”
After jolting out of the gate with a 20-2 first quarter, the Mustangs ended the first half ahead 29-13. Then, in the third quarter, the Eagles changed to a 1-2-2 defense, put more pressure on the Mustangs. They crept back within eight points of the Mustangs with a brief run, but a Mustang time-out and nine points in the third from Ogle helped George Mason regroup.
“We used a timeout to re-emphasize having poise with the ball and making hard cuts and ball fakes before we passed, and we were fine,” Coach Chris Capannola said. “We haven’t been pressed much all year, so it sort of took us by surprise a bit.”
Senior guard Noel Obusan scored 11 points and senior guard Eion Oosterbaan added eight points against the Eagles. The Mustang defensive effort against Clarke County’s leading scorer, Ethan Emmart, held him to five points.
“We try to defend [Emmart] before he catches the ball, which limits his open looks,” Capannola said. “It’s a formula that’s worked very well the last couple years.”
On Jan. 18, the Mustangs defeated Madison County High School 65-52 at home. The game was a grudge match for the Mustangs who lost 57-53 at Madison County last month.
“We played much better defense against Madison this time than at their place. We held Travis Warren to 11 points, and he averages over 20,” Capannola said. “We also made 11 threes, and Nate Ogle dominated inside, which is our formula for success.”
Against the Mountaineers, senior forward Philippe Griffiths led the Mustangs in scoring with 20 points and Ogle trailed right behind with 19 points. Senior guards Eion Oosterbaan and Obusan scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. Griffiths and Ogle combined to go 10-10 from the free-thrown line.
Capannola said Griffiths has “learned to shoot with a guy in his face, and that’s the sign of a pure shooter; he looks at the rim only, and doesn’t see the defenders.” He said, “not many big men can do what Nate does,” about Ogle, who has shown skill as an inside and outside shooter.
The Mustangs traveled to Central High School Wednesday for a rematch after their 30-point victory over the Falcons earlier this season, but game results were not available at press time. Going into that game, the Mustangs were on a seven-game win streak. On Friday, George Mason will host Strasburg High School in another rematch of an early-season victory. Both games start at 7:45 p.m.