By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team lost 64-40 to William Monroe High School on Tuesday, following a 73-28 victory over Rappahannock County High School last week in the Mustangs’ first game of the New Year.
The Mustangs were down 36-17 at halftime against the William Monroe Dragons and weren’t competitive for most of the game. Senior forward Will Nunley led the team with 12 points and 14 rebounds, followed by sophomore guard Doug Mason with 10 points and sophomore forward George deMars with eight points. The Dragons are undefeated in Bull Run District play so far this season, while the Mustangs are 3-3.
“We didn’t play poorly against Monroe but missed way too many easy shots and free throws,” said head coach Chris Capannola. “We handled their pressure which was great since that’s been a problem all year, so I was very pleased that we took them out of their press.”
Capannola, who had expressed concerns about the Mustangs’ ball handling and decision-making in the back court early in the season, said George Mason’s guards are starting to perform better. He said sophomore guard Sam Selby and freshman guard Elliot Mercado are “coming along nicely” to provide support for senior guards Nick Bourbeau and Angel Castaneda.
The Mustangs’ rebounding and defense are areas that need improvement. According to Capannola, a reason for the team’s loss to William Monroe was that no one besides Nunley was “getting it done” on the boards.
“Our help defense is non-existent at times, and we get beaten off the dribble too easily,” Capannola said. “It’s all part of the learning curve for a young team, but it needs to get better in a hurry if we want to make any noise in the district.”
George Mason actually has a +13 point differential in regular season games this season. But when final scores are included from the two tournaments the Mustangs have played in this season – where they faced equal or higher levels of competition – George Mason has a -52 point differential.
Last Thursday, George Mason traveled to Rappahannock County, where they crushed the Panthers. The Mustangs only had a 29-18 lead after two quarters of play. They pulled away from the Panthers in the second half by outscoring them 44-10, 28-4 in the fourth quarter.
“We started out slow against [Rappahannock] but played a really good second half. We passed the ball really well and made our open shots,” Capannola said. “It was nice to get everybody minutes and see the guys relaxing and just playing basketball.”
Nunley scored 17 points against the Panthers, and 11 players out of the Mustangs’ 13-man roster scored. Doug Mason, who scored 13 points against Rappahannock County including three 3-pointers, is emerging as a complementary offensive weapon to Nunley.
“We still need a consistent scoring threat other than Nunley and Doug is emerging as that guy,” Capannola said. “If we can get more consistency from the other back court guys we can be dangerous as January moves along.”
The Mustangs’ next game is at home Thursday against Manassas Park High School.