UPDATE: The Lady Mustangs lost 47-41 to Strasburg Thursday, Feb. 19 at home during the finals of the Bull Run District Tournament. After earning a bye for the quarterfinal round, the George Mason High School girls varsity basketball team opened their postseason play this Tuesday with a 54-39 win over Clarke County in the semifinals.
The Lady Mustangs put some early pressure on the Eagles, using their full-court press to control the tempo. Freshman Bria Platenburg had a hot start to lead the offense, dropping six of the team’s 13 first-quarter points. Mason built an 11-3 lead midway through the first period before allowing Clarke to climb back in. Following a Clarke timeout, Mason lost some of their starting momentum and allowed the Eagles to erase the eight-point lead.
A pair of traveling calls and several turnovers kept the Mustangs from getting anything going on offense late in the quarter. Clarke reduced the Mustang lead to six at the end of the first quarter, then managed to get a brief lead midway through the second on a pair of free throws from senior Misty Munson. However, after losing the lead, head coach LaBryan Thomas managed to rally his team again as they went on an 8-0 run following the Munson free throws. Junior point guard Chantal Thomas, who led the team with eight assists on the night, hit a series of free throws and orchestrated the rejuvenating run for Mason.
“Chantal started controlling the game and looking inside more. Once we got our point guards distributing the ball, we kind of just took over,” said Coach Thomas.
The Mustangs took a 26-19 lead into the locker room, and didn’t look back from there. Clarke committed four personal fouls in the first two minutes of the second half. Mason fell into foul trouble of their own early in the second half, but managed to keep a safe double-digit lead throughout the half by continuing to play an aggressive game on defense. Freshmen Lauren Kane and Platenburg had two thunderous blocks apiece to set the tone for the rest of the night. In addition to her defensive fireworks, Platenburg also had a pair of tough buckets inside to seal things in the fourth.
Bull Run Player of the Year hopefuls Nicole Mitchell and Kim Kenny had quiet nights offensively due to extra attention from Clarke defenders, but Coach Thomas felt the double teams they attracted let the rest of the team do what they wanted.
“Kim’s always going to be there; she’s going to be up against the toughest inside player the other team has, and [Nicole’s] presence on the floor just keeps everything going. She settles everyone down, and with all that attention on her, it’s always going to free up somebody for us.”
The Mustangs host the Bull Run District Tournament final on Thursday, Feb. 19, where they will take on the number-two seeded Strasburg Rams for the District title. Mason is already guaranteed a slot in the Region B tournament, though Coach Thomas and his team remain focused on the task at hand.
“Strasburg’s next. I’m not looking past Strasburg,” said Coach Thomas. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.”