The George Mason High School Boys Varsity basketball team handled Falls Church High School in their first action of the season on Friday evening, outscoring the Jaguars in five of the six periods.
The Mustangs played an up-tempo, scrappy game in which the offense was raw but aggressive. Meanwhile, the defense picked up the slack by swarming Falls Church shooters and cutting off passing lanes. The team overcame inconsistent outside shooting and a lack of an out of bounce play by hustling and playing a physical game on defense and in transitions.
Head Coach Chris Capannola explained that the inconsistent shooting was the result of a few butterflies to due to the fact that it was their first time facing off against another team and because they only had two prior weeks to practice.
“The shooting was expected, but not acceptable,” said Capannola. “But [the shooting] will get better, they were all a little antsy.”
The normally sharp-shooting Josh Brew never got in a rhythm offensively but played a tenacious defensive game, coming up with several takeaways and barely allowing any open shot attempts.
“Josh is a high energy guy,” said Capannola of his point guard. “When he’s shooting well while also looking to pass first he’s great.”
Brew, a senior, was selected as a member of the preseason All-Region team; an honor given to players who are projected to have standout seasons.
Another player expected to have a big season is 6’7″ center Jordan Cheney. Cheney, a junior showcased his new and improved down low game in the scrimmage. He was one of the team’s leading scorers as the offense seemed to also go through him. He was also a major presence on defense, showing that he has gotten stronger as well as gained confidence since last winter.
“[Jordan] really needed to show he could be the man down there, and he really was,” said Capannola.
Junior Yates Jordan, another preseason selection for All-Region saw his first live action in a full year after suffering a foot injury during the summer, preventing him from taking part in any basketball activity. In limited action, Jordan did not seem to be completely back to his old self, though he noted that he felt he had not lost anything on his vertical jump.
Probably the most memorable moment of the evening was when 250+lb senior center Andrew Lieber soared through the air to make an acrobatic block on a Falls Church forward.
“He rose up like a bird in the sky and landed a punishing blow to the ball. Oh, and the guy’s face,” joked junior guard Michael Wolfe on his teammate’s play.
Overall, Capannola and the players were content wither their effort and aggressiveness on defense, but remained focused on getting their outside shooting game back on track before the start of the season.
“We did a lot of things well, and I think we did an okay job executing some of our plays,” noted the a forementioned Lieber. “This team has some high expectations, and moving forward I think we can fulfill them if we put our minds to it.”
After a promising showing against Falls Church, Mason looked to build on their success in their second and final scrimmage against Thomas Jefferson High School on Tuesday, but results were too late for press time.