Over the period of five days, the George Mason High School varsity girls basketball team had the chance to face both the defending state champion and an undefeated squad, with the looming prospect of staying unbeaten in the Bull Run District and soaring to the top of the Bull Run District standings should they take both games.
However, crucial turnovers throughout their games against both Clarke and Strasburg denied the Mustangs any shot of improving their record to 4-0 in the district, as they dropped both matches to fall to 2-2.
On Tuesday, the Mustangs stepped onto the court with high hopes that they could knock off the Strasburg Rams, who entered the game undefeated on their 2008 campaign. Despite going ahead two points in the first quarter, the Mustangs fell back under the persistent Ram shooting and inside presence, as Mason entered the halftime break down 12 points.
The Mustangs started the third quarter determined to not let their chances slip away, as they pulled within five after the ensuing eight minutes. While they held Strasburg (14-0, 3-0) to just 10 second-half points, two costly turnovers — Mason had 30 on the night — in the final minute of the game squandered their last-ditch effort at victory, as the Rams prevailed, 40-38.
Junior Kim Kenny led Mason with six points, six rebounds and five steals, while seniors Olivia Scott and Bailey Walton chipped in six and seven points, respectively. A pair of sophomores in Chantal Thomas and Nicole Mitchell each added seven points to round out the top scorers for Mason.
Senior Rachel Kazman racked up six assists and four rebounds, while junior Abby Stroup, in her first game back from a sprained ankle, added three points. Despite the balanced scoring, it was ultimately the plethora of turnovers and poor shooting — the Mustangs did not make a three-pointer in eight attempts and shot 31 percent on the night — which doomed Mason.
Last Thursday, Mason (9-6, 2-2) ventured to the unfriendly confines of the Clarke County gymnasium in hopes of knocking off the defending Single A state champion Eagles. The Mustangs hung tough for the first quarter, but a season-high 33 turnovers led Clarke (10-3, 3-0) to pull away in the second half, downing Mason 54-42.
Save a monster game from Mitchell, the Mustangs were relatively inefficient offensively, as they again made just 31 percent of their shots the entire night. The sophomore, though, torched the Eagle defense, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season.
Following Mitchell, Walton and Kenny each chipped in five points and five and four rebounds, respectively. Kazman added four steals and three assists to direct the offense in the absence of senior Meredith Hamme, who had surgery last Friday to repair her knee.
The team looks to pull out of their recent slide this Thursday as they host Rappahannock County (1-9, 0-3), before they make their second trip around the Bull Run District. Mason will get another crack at both Strasburg and Clarke in another five-day stretch in the second week of February.