By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team narrowly overcame district opponent Clarke County High School in a 53-51 victory last Friday. The win gave the Mustangs a 5-4 record in the Bull Run District.
“I have to think that win Friday gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” said Coach Chris Capannola. The win against Clarke County was the Mustangs’ second district win in a row after beating Madison County High School 56-45 last Wednesday.
“The atmosphere in the gym was great, the fans were really loud and it helped us hold off Clarke at the end,” Capannola said.
Senior forward Will Nunley, senior guard Nick Bourbeau, and sophomore guard Doug Mason each scored nine points against the Eagles. Nunley grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out of the game with a little over two minutes to go. Sophomore guard Sam Selby, freshman guard Elliot Mercado, and sophomore forward George deMars – with Bourbeau, Mason, and senior forward Alex McMillen – helped finish the game in Nunley’s absence.
“The fact that we finished a huge district game with a freshman and three sophomores on the floor speaks to the future of this team,” Capannola said. “Those kids should be very excited about what’s in store for them.”
The day before the win against Clarke County, the Mustangs lost 55-49 to The Avalon School. George Mason trailed the Black Knights by as many as 14 points at moments in the game, but kept rallying back from double-digit deficits.
“I thought that the team played really hard,” said Mason, who scored six points against the Black Knights. “Our defensive efforts were there, [and our] offensive efforts were there. The shots just weren’t falling for us.”
The Black Knights opened the game with a 9-0 run due to poor shooting and turnovers by the Mustangs. The Mustangs were down 29-21 by the end of the first half. George Mason crept back into the game throughout the third quarter, finishing the period with a 9-0 run only down 38-36. Late in the game, Selby hit a 3-pointer to put the Mustangs ahead 49-48, but the Black Knights pulled out the win in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“I honestly thought this is it. The glass ceiling’s broken, the monkey’s off the back, whatever cliché it is,” Capannola said. “Now it wasn’t meant to be, but the fact that they battled back and actually took the lead, I think that’s great.”
Bourbeau led the team with nine points against the Black Knights. Nunley, Mason, Selby, and senior guard Angel Castaneda all scored six points.
Nunley spent the entire past week in a scoring slump, only tallying 23 points in the Mustangs’ three games combined. But other players have stepped up to help out on offense.
Mason, who has been an emerging scoring threat throughout the season, scored 17 points in the Mustangs’ win against Madison County. Senior forward Rand Walter scored nine points.
“It’s the best. When you’re on the road and we needed a win really badly. My teammates have been putting me in great situations to score every game,” Mason said.
The Mustangs played Central High School last night, but results were not available at press time. On Friday, the Mustangs travel to Strasburg High School for a district match-up and play Rappahannock County High School at home next Wednesday.