By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s girls varsity basketball team is headed to the Bull Run District championship after two wins against district opponents in the past week. The Mustangs beat Rappahannock County High School 68-22 in the quarterfinals of the district tournament last Thursday before beating William Monroe High School 68-33 in the semifinals on Tuesday.
In the game against Rappahannock County, senior Stephanie Cheney scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while sophomore forward Katie Goodwin scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Junior guard Julianna Rollo and freshman guard/forward Shelby Fields both added eight points to the Mustangs’ tally.
“We had to stay focused because [when] we played them a few times before, we had beaten them,” Cheney said. “But anyone could beat anyone at any day so our mentality is just to stay focused in every game.”
George Mason got off to an early lead in the semifinal match-up against William Monroe with a 19-0 run in the first quarter. The Mustangs have been taking big leads early against most of their district opponents this season. Junior guard Jaya Chavern said that this tactic is especially important for the team in the playoffs.
“We really need to make sure we lock up these games early and then keep working on the things we need to work on for the rest of the game,” Chavern said. “We worked on our press a lot, which is good. We’re going to need our press as we continue.”
The press that Chavern is referring to is a 1-3-1 press that has been surprising most teams since the Mustangs started using it in late January. George Mason caused seven turnovers, six of which were steals, by using the press against the Dragons in the first quarter.
Another press has been helping the Mustangs cause turnovers after opposing teams cross over half court. William Monroe turned the ball over three times in the opening minutes of the second quarter due the Mustangs effective use of traps. One of the turnovers was a five-second violation called on a Dragons player after she got trapped between the sideline and two Mason defenders.
The Mustangs outscored the Dragons 19-8 in the second quarter and finished the first half with a 44-15 lead. Cheney scored 11 points in the third quarter on her way to a 31-point game. Chavern scored nine points against the Dragons, six of which came from 3-pointers. Goodwin and sophomore guard Ava Roth both added seven points against the Dragons.
“When we came out tonight we were super pumped, super focused,” Cheney said. “And we [won] as a team which was the best part.”
Chavern said the team just has seven games left, in reference to the team’s focus on a state championship run. But first, they have to make it through the region tournament, which they automatically qualified for by making it to the district championship.
The Mustangs play Clarke County High School in the Bull Run District championship tomorrow night.