The George Mason High School boys basketball team pulled off two big wins that could have spelled upset last week. The Mustangs won the regular season Bull Run District title last Thursday, routed Rappahannock County High School the next day and recovered from a losing first half performance against Clarke County High School on Tuesday.
The Mustangs beat William Monroe High School 70-48 last Thursday in a one-game playoff to decide the regular season district champion. After the Mustangs sprinted out of the gate with a 20-5 first quarter lead, the Dragons began to show signs of competitiveness, but it was too late. Senior forward Nate Ogle led the Mustangs in scoring with 20 points. Senior guard Noel Obusan came next with 14, and senior guard/forward Philippe Griffiths added 10.
“We wanted to come out and play our butts off, like impose our will,” Ogle said. “And we definitely did that. … We worked really hard, and we were able to dictate the flow of the game.”
Rappahannock County came to the Mustang home court the next day for the opening round of the district tournament. George Mason looked like they were going to shut out the Panthers in the first quarter with a 24-0 run until freshman guard/forward Bradlee Frye hit a 3-pointer with under a minute left in the quarter, but the Mustangs coasted from there to a 82-30 victory. Ogle scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, Griffiths scored 13 points and snatched four rebounds and senior guard Jeremy Stewart added 10 points and two rebounds in a game where all but three George Mason players scored.
Clarke County came to the Mustang home court Tuesday gunning for an upset. The Eagles exploited a weak Mustang defense to jump out to a 14-11 lead over George Mason. In the second quarter, the Mustangs looked primed to take the lead, but the Eagles held them off with five 3-pointers and ended the half still ahead 31-25. The Mustangs, however, opened the third quarter with a dish from Obusan to senior forward Dimitri Venets, who laid the ball in the hoop for two points. They went on to exploit a weakness in the Eagles defense – a focus on Ogle as the main post player that left Venets wide open – for the rest of the game. Venets scored seven of his 19 points in the third, including a bucket that tied the game at 33 midway through the quarter.
“It feels good knowing you can be that one guy to get the ball,” Venets said while staying humble about his contribution. “Yeah, I had 12 points, or whatever I had, but I just care about the win.”
Ogle put the Mustangs ahead for good on the next trip down the court with lay-up. Ogle scored 12 points and Griffiths scored 11 against the Eagles. Clarke County only scored nine points the entire second half before a 3-pointer by Eagles forward Jared Ramey in the final seconds of the game put the final score at 60-43.
The Mustangs will come full circle to another match-up against William Monroe, this time for the tournament title. The game starts at 7 p.m.
“It’s what we’ve worked for,” Coach Chris Capannola said. “I told the guys we won the district, regular season. Now the next goal is to win the tournament championship. They go hand-in-hand.”