The season of the George Mason High School boys basketball team came to an end one game short of a berth in the Virginia Group A state tournament, falling to No. 1 seeded Buckingham in the Region B semifinals, 60-45.
The Mustangs stayed within striking distance for much of the first half, but a late second-quarter lapse allowed Buckingham to pull away to a 33-24 lead at halftime. Buckingham mostly cruised from there, though Mason rallied to sneak within six points with three and a half minutes remaining.
The Mustangs struggled to shut down Buckingham's center, Jesse White, a 6-foot-5, 270-lbs. Senior. White finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead his team to the Regional finals. From there, Buckingham would go on to capture the Region B title.
Junior Joel Chandler and sophomore Jordan Cheney led Mason in the scoring column with 18 and 13 points respectively. Junior Anthony Andrianarison finished with 10.
The loss capped a trying season for the Mustangs (13-14) that repeatedly saw the team battle through obstacles and march within one win of a state tournament appearance. Mason was slowed by injuries and illness throughout the year, and was later forced to overcome the loss of several players to school academic intelligibility rules. Still, the Mustangs managed some magic in one of the best sub-.500 seasons you'll see. They upended reigning state champion Clarke County at home on Jan. 16 and finished second in the Bull Run District. A gripping overtime win against Manassas Park in the district semifinals returned Mason to the Region B Tournament after being denied last season.
The game marks the final chapter in the careers of seniors Tim Brooks, Mike Straub, Alex Prewitt and Jake Johnson.
“They have laid the foundation for us to be even better next year, which is one of the jobs of the senior classe,” Mason Head Coach Chris Capannola said. “They will all be missed.”
The Mustangs do return several starters, including leading scorer Chandler.