With the Conference 35 tournament roughly two weeks away, George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team moved into favorable position with a crucial 63-45 win over conference rival Central High School on Jan. 18.
Mason head coach Chris Capannola threw down the gauntlet when he proclaimed that the game against Central was the biggest of the season thus far.
Tasking his team to right their wrongs of inconsistent execution and an inability to close out games, the Mustangs (10-5) performed effortlessly under their coach’s expectations and had one of their best showings of the year.
“We didn’t respond good at the beginning, obviously, we were down 10-2,” senior forward Dustin Green said. “But we kind of picked it up and realized the intensity of the moment. For once, when we got up, we stayed up and put the hammer down. We realized that we just need to control the whole game for a win, don’t make it interesting at the end.”
Down eight points four and a half minutes into the game, Mason rallied with junior guard Biruk Teshome’s sharpshooting from 3-point land. Teshome’s hot hand forced Central to respect his shot while also allowing Green and sophomores Max Ashton and Hollman Smith to get involved offensively.
Mason took a 20-17 lead and never looked back after Teshome’s fourth 3-pointer of the half. The junior contributed 14 points to the Mustangs’ 29-23 halftime advantage.
“This was almost a career night for Biruk,” Capannola said. “He really picked up the slack when Max wasn’t hitting and Hollman only had a couple buckets. We count on guys, and Biruk hasn’t had a breakout game yet, so this was it. We needed him and he came through.”
A sluggish third quarter saw Teshome and Green continue to fill the scoring shoes that Ashton and Smith normally do. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Mustangs’ 41-28 margin put Central in a bind. And while Central put up 17 in the final frame, Mason also had its best scoring quarter of the night (22 points) to clinch the win well before time ran out.
Teshome led all scorers with 20 points, including six 3-pointers. Ashton followed with 14, Green contributed 12 and Smith added 11. Green also had six rebounds and five assists.
Mason hosted Strasburg on Wednesday night but results were unavailable at press time. On Jan. 26, the Mustangs are on the road against William Monroe High School.