Two more wins for George Mason High School’s varsity girls basketball team in the regional tournament this past week earned the team a berth in Virginia’s 2A state tournament.
Mason (21-4), undefeated since December, punched its ticket to states with a 51-37 win over Greensville County High School and a 58-33 win over Staunton-based Robert E. Lee High School in the first two rounds of the 2A East Region tournament.
Junior forwards Jenna Short and Kaylee Hirsch shown in the Mustangs’ win against Greensville County. The two forwards combined for 29 points and came up big in key moments of the game. Hirsch helped shut the door on Greensville County with 10 consecutive points between the third and fourth quarters. And Short sparked a 10-0 Mason run midway through the second quarter by contributing five points that put the Eagles behind for the remainder of the contest.
“We’ve both played for a while and we know each other’s playing styles, Short said, “so we work well together.”
Outside of the frontcourt, Mason was clicking in all aspects.
The Mustangs’ prickly defense bullied Greensville County out of the paint, forcing the Eagles to settle for tough shots. On offense, Mason’s meticulous passing drew Greensville County out of position, opening up shots on the perimeter and for Hirsch and Short in the low post. The results left Greensville County scrambling to keep up throughout.
The Mustangs’ win over Lee showcased the team’s sharpshooting.
Sophomore Maddie LaCroix, juniors Nicole Bloomgarden and Victoria Rund and senior Sarah Lubnow all hit from beyond the arc to spur the offense. The long-range success helped the Mustangs to a 31-14 halftime lead and to close the game out in the second half.
Moving forward, Mason will need to adapt as it embarks on a state tournament run.
Gone are the gimme turnovers that lead to run-outs and easy points against subpar teams. The Mustangs’ halfcourt offense will be tasked with generating the team’s points, something not seen as a daunting learning curve by members of the team.
“We’ve played so many different styles of teams that whatever the game calls for, we’ll figure it out,” head coach Michael Gilroy said.
“We have speed as our advantage — that definitely helps us,” Short added. “And our bench is really deep so if we get tired we can put people in. Most teams don’t have that.”
The Mustangs are set to host Nottoway High School tonight, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m.