Sports

Mason Hoops Forging Identity at Chantilly Tournament: Both Boys & Girls Mustangs Off to Fast Start at 3-Day Tourney

Both the Mason High School boys and girls basketball teams had solid starts to the Chantilly Classic holiday tournament at Chantilly High on Monday.

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Top scorers Chantal Thomas (left) and Chantal Thomas (right) during one of the Lady Mustang’s practices. (Photo: Robert Fulton/News-Press)

The girls defeated Mills Godwin 68-63, and the boys knocked off Mountain view 63-58. The win improves the girls record to 6-0.

“This tournament is very good for us because it gets us ready for district (play),” said Mason head coach LaBryan Thomas. “This is great for us.”

One challenge the Mustangs had to face was not on the court but off it. Because of the recent winter storm and the holiday, the team hadn’t practiced in eight days.

“It was bad,” said Chantal Thomas, a senior and one of the  team leaders. “When we went back to practice, everyone obviously had eaten too much turkey and ham. Today before the game, we had a two-hour warm up. We know our bench is pretty deep. If know that when we get tired, they’re there for us.”

Coach Thomas attributed the rust shown early in the game to the lack of practice.

“We didn’t have our chemistry together,” he said. “That’s why we came out a little sluggish in the first half, but they settled down and got their stuff together in the second half.

“It’s tough,” the coach continued with a laugh, “It’s really tough. I brought them in a little earlier today before we got on the bus and we shot around and went over a few things, but we struggled in the fist half, we didn’t have our legs. But we got back together in the second half.”

Chantal Thomas scored 19 points against Godwin, and teammate Nicole Mitchell added 16 points and nine rebounds. It was no surprise to the coach that those two led the squad.

“When the game gets tough, they always get going,” said coach Thomas. “Those two, we look to them to lead us.”

The 6-0 start appears great on paper, but the Mustangs look like they still have room to grow.

“I’m happy, but we’re not there yet,” said coach Thomas. “We’re not where we were last year. It’s coming, it’s getting there, but it’s going to take us a little while. We’re still making crazy mistakes. We have speed and senior leadership, which keeps us in the game.”

“I feel like the games that we have played, we’ve given our all,” added Chantal Thomas. “I feel like there’s not a game we haven’t pushed. For the most  part, I feel like it’s a good 6-0.”

The tournament in Chantilly is a good barometer for where the team is at this point in the season. Chantal Thomas, who as a senior has participated in a number of these events, is pleased. She usually has to make a speech about heart and desire to get her team fired up, but not so in a 68-63 win.

“We always get blown out every year,” she said. “At half-time, there’s always a speech I give, and I didn’t have to do it today.”

The Mason boys got their record to .500 at 4-4 with the win over Mountain view. Jeremy Stewart scored 16 points, Aaron Young scored 12 and Nate Ogle added 11.

After falling behind by as much as 12 in the first half, the Mustangs got to within 30-27 at half-time. In the third quarter, Mason found itself down 50-34 before going on a 26-7 run in the fourth period to secure the victory.

Both the Mason boys and girls continued in the Chantilly tournament past deadline. The girls are at Briar Woods at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 6. The boys are at Potomac Falls on Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m., and Manassas Park on Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

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