By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball head coach Chris Capannola knew the Mustangs were going to “struggle” to compete going into the season.
“You don’t lose nine seniors, who played almost all of the minutes for not just last year but the last two years, and just plug guys in and you win 20 games,” Capannola said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
Including their tournament and pre-season schedules, the Mustangs have lost 12 games this season, as many as they had lost the past two seasons combined, when the team made consecutive trips to the Virginia High School League’s state tournament. Capannola said that, “with a few key baskets or free throws or defensive stops here or there, we could easily be 12-6 instead of 6-12.”
His analysis was supported by the Mustangs’ performance in two Bull Run District games this past week. One was a 15-point, 75-60 win over Central High School last Wednesday and the other was a 15-point, 55-40 loss to Strasburg High School last Saturday.
“The Central game showed what we are capable of doing,” Capannola said. “We moved the ball beautifully on offense and we shot the lights out.”
Sophomore guard Doug Mason dropped 21 points against Central, all of which came from 3-pointers, and sophomore guard Sam Selby scored 13 points against the Falcons. Selby scored three 3-pointers. Capannola said both players have “improved greatly” throughout the season.
“Both are excellent shooters and are getting better and better at making good decisions on the fly, which is hard for sophomores to do in the heat of battle,” Capannola said. “They were looking for each other against Central and seemed to really enjoy setting each other up.”
The Mustangs’ loss to Strasburg a few days later broke George Mason’s two-game win streak. Capannola said the team was “frustrated” during the game against the Rams.
“Frankly, very few guys played well and we had zero intensity or sense of urgency,” Capannola said. “Our defense was OK but offensively we were stagnant and the shots weren’t falling. We had a great chance to beat them and we didn’t show up.”
Earlier this season, George Mason lost a close 59-52 home game to the Rams. This time around, senior forward Will Nunley scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Strasburg. Senior guard Nick Bourbeau and Doug Mason both scored nine points.
As of press time, George Mason shared a 6-5 record with Clarke County and Manassas Park High Schools in the Bull Run District. The Mustangs still have a shot at finishing third in the district, which Capannola said “would be a great accomplishment for [the] team.” They hosted Rappahannock County High School tonight, but the results were not available at press time.
The Mustangs play their last two games of the regular season in the upcoming week. They face William Monroe High School at home on Friday and travel to Manassas Park High School next Tuesday.