by Matt Delaney
George Mason High School’s varsity girls basketball team finished the Cougar Holiday Classic at Oakton High School on a high note with a December 30 victory over Robert E. Lee High School 55-50 after losing to C.D. Hylton High School 34-21 the day before.
Mason found themselves in another bend-don’t-break situation against Lee that had become standard procedure during their time in the tournament, but the team managed to have just enough resolve to pull out the victory.
“It was good for us to be in a close situation,” head coach Michael Gilroy said. “We haven’t been able to come away with those tight games at the end so it was nice to kinda secure one.”
Sophomore guard Nicole Bloomgarden was an offensive dynamo, sinking seven field goals with two coming from downtown to give her 16 points. Freshman forward Raquel Dod pitched in with 11 points and shot 7-8 from the free throw line on a night where no one else made a free throw for Mason. Junior guard Sarah Lubnow also added nine points of her own.
The good vibes felt from beating out Lee wiped away the bad vibes that came from losing to C.D. Hylton in a slugfest the night before.
Mason’s offense never got off the ground against the Bulldogs, who held Mason under double-digit scoring throughout the game.
Hylton’s length clogged up the paint and took away easy baskets, forcing the guard-heavy Mustangs to be one-dimensional from long-range.
“We were about 5-for-60 shooting, which is terrible,” Gilroy said. “We gotta use our speed and we gotta create some stops [and] we weren’t doing anything defensively to turn them over either. At the end of the day we had to make shots and we didn’t.”
The loss to Hylton represented Mason’s low-point during the Classic and exposed the team’s lack of offensive playmakers whenever Bloomgarden or Lubnow aren’t on the court.
Gilroy was adamant that other players on the team have no trouble creating their own shot, but Bloomgarden, while confessing there are good ball-handlers on the roster, did express that Lubnow’s presence is a relief.
“Sarah is one of the strongest ones that I prefer to play with,” Bloomgarden said.
“When Sarah gets subbed out it gets hard because, sometimes, it’s like I have to take the ball up and like kinda play the one and two [positions].
2015 ended positively for Mason which helped preserve team morale. They played William Monroe High School at home on Wednesday, Jan. 6, but results were not available at press time.