Starting this week, George Mason High School’s basketball teams head back to the courts.
Here is the latest on what Mustangs fans should expect in the coming weeks:
George Mason Girls Team
Coming off a remarkable season that ended with a playoff run and an appearance in the state finals last winter, the George Mason Mustangs girls Varsity Basketball team is gearing up for its 2008-2009 campaign with sky high expectations once again.
However, this year’s additional hype means nothing to the returning players who have no intentions of dwelling in their previous success.
“We’re a new team,” said junior Nicole Mitchell, one of the team’s two returning starters. “It’s a new season, and I don’t think people should compare us to last year’s team.”
Mitchell’s humble statement carries a lot of significance due to the fact that the Mustangs experienced a great deal of turnover from last year. In addition to losing three of their ’07-’08 starters to graduation, long tenured head coach Bill Broderick moved on to take a coaching position at Elon University this past spring. Broderick’s replacement, LaBryan Thomas, is returning to coaching basketball after taking the winter off in 2007.
Thomas coached the boys junior varsity team at Mason for several years before stepping down from the job last winter to watch his daughter Chantal play.
Chantal, a former transfer from Garfield High School, enters her junior year projected to be one of the top players in the Bull Run District after becoming a solid contributor last season. Her incendiary speed and exceptional ball handling skills gave a spark to the Mustangs in their ’07-’08 post-season run. Thomas will be an even more crucial component to this year’s squad, as they will be very thin on experience at the point guard position.
With the exception of Thomas, they will be reliant on hybrid players such as Mitchell and junior Kelsey Kane filling in at spots normally suited for smaller players.
Along with a new head coach, the Mustangs brought in fresh faces with a trio of talented ninth graders in Bria Platenburg, Leah Roth and Lauren Kane. The freshmen are each expected to help bring some sort of depth to the Mustang’s sparse backcourt.
With the leadership of senior forwards Abby Stroup and Mayssa Chehata in the post, the Mustangs certainly have a shot to be in contention for another run at a state title.
The girls’ first encounter with another team is Nov. 22, when they travel to Heritage High School for a scrimmage. George Mason opens their regular season with 12 non-district games, the first one on Dec. 2 at home against Lake Braddock before opening district play against Madison County in an away game on Jan. 7.
George Mason Boys Team
The Mustangs boys Varsity Basketball team ended their ’07-’08 campaign with a bang, finishing second in the district tournament, and earning a regional berth despite a disappointing regular season in which they finished 11-12.
Like the girls team, the boys are bringing back the majority of their talent. Senior Joel Chandler is healthy, and poised to have another monster year along with the sharpshooting Josh Brew. The high flying Anthony Andrianarison will give the team a boost inside the paint once again alongside 6-foot, 7-inches tall center Jordan Cheney, who is a junior.
In addition to their main scorers, the boys team brings a good amount of depth to the table with several versatile players coming off the bench. Junior forwards Michael Wolfe and Brian Lubnow both bring varsity experience to the table along with senior Tony Armstrong who missed all of his junior season due to injury.
Clarke County, last year’s Bull Run district champion figures to be back as Mason’s biggest competitor in the district along with Madison County who also split in two games with the Mustangs during the regular season.
The boys open their competitive schedule with a scrimmage against Falls Church High School in a home game at 7:30 p.m. this Friday night, Nov. 21.