by Matt Delaney
George Mason’s boys basketball team finished their goal of a perfect regular season by defeating Rappahannock County High School 71-39 on Wednesday, Feb. 3, Clarke County High School 51-36 on Friday, Feb. 5 and Madison County High School 70-51 on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Madison County proved to be a stiff test for Mason back on Tuesday, Jan. 12 when the Mustangs pulled out a 71-61 win. The rematch started with a bang as both teams traded baskets at will. Entering the second quarter Mason was ahead 16-14, but cooled their jets and took Madison County out of sync in the process.
This resulted in a 31-21 halftime lead, followed by a third quarter that saw Mason score 22 points and put them safely ahead 53-37 going into the fourth.
Senior forward Robert Tartt was the scoring and rebound leader with 19 and 8, respectively, while senior guard Elliot Mercado served up six assists. Tuesday’s win was preceded by a two solid victories on the road the previous week.
Against Clarke County, the Mustangs started slow, but took care of business when needed. At the end of the first quarter Mason clung to a 13-12 lead. However, the Mustangs only allowed 12 points combined the next two quarters and added 23 of their own during that same span, putting them up 36-24 going into the final frame.
Tartt again led scoring and rebounds with 23 points and eight boards. Mercado earned four assists.
The Rappahannock County road rematch played out similarly to Mason’s 76-20 whooping on Jan. 7 in Falls Church.
The Mustangs tallied 21 points while holding Rappahannock County scoreless throughout the first quarter. The Panthers had an offense in the second quarter, but Mason added 23 more points, entering halftime up 44-13. Mason eased off the gas in the second half, but still put up double-figures in each quarter.
Now, it’s on to the postseason and the team’s ultimate goal of a 2A State title. They faced one final test to end the season against Madison County, but Mason thinks a third meeting is in store.
“We’re probably gonna see them again Saturday in a real meaningful game,” head coach Chris Capannola said. “It was important to us not only to go undefeated, something no one’s ever done, but to…let them know come Saturday you’re gonna have to play a lot better than that to beat us here.”
The Mustangs start the Conference 35 tournament at home against Clarke County on Thursday, Feb. 11.