For the first time since the start of the season, George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team is on a winning streak. This past week, the Mustangs posted back-to-back victories with wins over Conference 35 rivals Clarke County High School, 50-39, and Rappahannock County High School, 55-52.
With a 9-5 record, the Mustangs are beginning to find their stride right as the regular season winds down and postseason play creeps closer. It’s a good sign for Mason, a team that has struggled to play with a level of consistency the last month or so, oscillating between gaping and narrow leads.
A road game against Clarke County was the typical up-and-down performance for the Mustangs. Mason opened strong with a 13-4 lead after the first quarter before the Eagles to cut the lead to a disappointing, but not debilitating, 20-15 margin by halftime. Coming out of the intermission, the Mustangs corrected their errors and cranked up the intensity, outscoring the Eagles 30-24 in the second half.
Sophomore guard Max Ashton and forward Hollman Smith led the Mustangs with 14 points each while junior guard Biruk Teshome added 10. Senior Dustin Green grabbed a team-high seven rebounds along with three assists.
Monday’s visit to Rappahannock County was a different story.
“We haven’t played well there in 10 years, and last night was no exception.” head coach Chris Capannola said.
A 14-4 advantage by the end of the first quarter shrunk to 28-21 by halftime. Teshome hit a three early in the third to give Mason a 31-22 edge, but from there the squad began to tailspin.
Missed assignments on defense and an inability to find their shot on offense left the Mustangs trailing 37-36 to start the fourth quarter. For seven tense minutes both teams traded leads until Smith and Green hit two buckets and Ashton knocked down both his free throws to put Mason up by three with 16 seconds left. The defense tightened up on Rappahannock’s final possession to preserve the victory for Mason.
“I keep telling my team we are not going to rout anyone and we need to buckle down and win close games,” Capannola said. “This is the fourth one-possession game we’ve been in, and we’ve won the last two, so that’s a good sign of some maturity and poise at the end of games.”
Ashton finished with 22 points and Teshome with 11. Green led the way again with six rebounds and three assists.
Mason battled Central High School tonight in a rematch of the Mustangs’ 55-49 loss in December but results were unavailable at press time.