Something happened last week to the Mason High School girls basketball team that has been a rare occurrence during the teams last two championship-winning seasons.
The Mustangs lost two of three games in a four day period.
Last week, the Mason girls fell at Sidwell Friends 43-41 on Tuesday and dropped against Georgetown Visitation 67-57 on Saturday. The Mustangs sandwiched in an impressive victory against local rival Marshall 65-52 at home last Wednesday.
“It’s been a long time,” said third-year head coach LaBryan Thomas during a phone conversation after practice on Monday. “When you play good talent, it’s bound to happen.”
Mason, which now stands at 6-3, frequently seeks out tough competition early in the season as a way to toughen up in preparation for a potential playoff run.
Thomas said that after losing a pair of games in a short span, it’s his job to keep the team focused and upbeat. He added that the Mustangs have a young squad this season, and the upperclassmen on the team contribute to keeping the group steady. Additionally, being so early in the season, the lessons of an experience in mid-December can pay off down the road.
Against Sidwell, the Mustangs were forced to play with a shot clock, as schools in D.C. do but not those in Virginia or Maryland. The adjustment proved difficult, impacting the team’s tempo.
“It threw us off a little bit,” Thomas said. “We had to make some adjustments. We tweaked it on the fly.”
Ashley Alexander had 13 points and 7 rebounds and Stephanie Cheney added 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
The game against a tough Georgetown Visitation team took place at Bishop McNamara high School in Forestville, Md. Alexander scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds, and Cheney contributed 18 points and pulled down 10 boards.
“It was a battle,” Thomas said. “We just ran out of gas.”
But not everything last week was a negative: The 65-52 victory over Marshall proves to be a nice feather in the Mustangs’ early season cap. Mason enjoyed four girls scoring in double-digits, led by Cheney’s 24. Alexander grabbed 11 rebounds.
“We always try to play higher competition close to home,” Thomas said. “It’s good always away around. It helps the kids and helps the parents.”
On Tuesday, Mason travels to Wilmington, Delaware for the Diamond State Classic. The tournament promises to give the players some additional regional exposure.
“It’s a tournament that’s been inviting us for the last three or four years, and we hadn’t been able to swing it,” Thomas said.
While battles against tough private schools, local larger schools, and Mid-Atlantic unknowns push the Mustangs on the courts, the disruption to routine during the holiday season can also prove challenging.
“We’re use to it,” Thomas said. “It’s just getting the kids to stay focused.”
Thomas added that he’s pleased by the emergence of freshman center Alexander, who has been dominant of late.