George Mason High School’s girls basketball team finished off the final week of regular season play on a high note by downing Madison County High School, 53-23, and followed that up with a defensive 37-19 win over Clarke County High School earlier this week.
The time is now for the Mustangs (17-5).
With the postseason looming, the team has solidified its strengths — crisp ball movement on offense and suffocating defense — with its primary weakness of handling the ball too casually in big moments. Mason’s construction makes them a formidable foe for any upcoming opponents, and luckily they got their slice of humble pie out of the way before the win-or-go-home games start next week.
“The loss woke us up,” Mason head coach Michael Gilroy said. “Last year we had a 15-game win streak going into Region semifinals. Now we got that out of the way so we should have our heads clear for the playoffs.”
However senior forward Kaylee Hirsch does think that Mason’s Jan. 30 loss to Central High School was received differently by the team. According to her, some players lay the loss at the feet of the referees rather than put the blame on themselves. Hirsch wants her teammates to recognize that how the loss came about doesn’t matter as much as the loss itself, so going forward she wants her teammates to have “confidence, not cockiness” and the wins will follow.
That confidence was on full display against Madison County on Feb. 1. Senior forward Jenna Short’s putback, followed by Hirsch’s kick-out to senior guard Nicole Bloomgarden for a three-pointer got Mason off to the races in the opening minutes. The Mustangs would go up 13-0 and never look back.
At the start of the second quarter Mason led 18-3 and continued to keep up the pressure with senior forward Claire Trundle’s long two-pointer and senior guard Isabella Ashton’s layup on a feed from Bloomgarden. By halftime the Mustangs were up 32-14 and comfortably in command.
Starters played one final quarter in the third to put the game out of reach. Hirsch, Short and senior guards Elizabeth Dodge and Victoria Rund carried the scoring for the quarter and lengthened Mason’s lead to 46-19 heading into the final frame, where reserves would close it out.
The Mustangs win over Clarke County was anything but pretty. Both teams struggled to generate any consistent offense and were forcing errant shots at times. Still, Mason was able to string together a few runs that ultimately put them ahead and helped them seal a game where less than 60 points were scored between both teams.
So again, the time is now for Mason to make the run they’ve been plotting since last spring.
“Since we lost last year we’ve been saying we’re going to win the state championship,” Hirsch said. “So it’s time to go do it.”
Mason will host the winner of this week’s Conference 35 quarterfinal during the Feb. 13 semifinal game that will take place at The Pit.