Pity the poor Manassas Park High School girls basketball team. It’s not their fault they faced Mason High when they did.
Coming off two losses in three games heading into their game against Manassas Park at home last Tuesday, the Mustangs had a statement to make:
They’re still a team to be reckoned with.
Mason dominated Manassas Park, winning 64-32 to open district play.
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, where his team was preparing for a tournament this week, Mason head coach LaBryan Thomas said that he told his squad before the Manassas Park game to “just go out and play our game and get after it.”
Get after it, they did.
The Mustangs sprinted out to a 27-8 first quarter lead and cruised to victory. Stephanie Cheney scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the win, while teammate Ashley Alexander scored 11 and added 9 boards.
Thomas agreed that the victory was a bit of a statement game, to “let it be known that we’re still here” to their district opponents.
The win against Manassas Park sets Mason’s mark at 7-3 at the mid-point of the regular season. The Mustangs have a young team, and Thomas gives his squad a grade of “B” so far.
“I’m very pleased,” the coach said. “Being 7-3 with a young team as we have. They will only get better.”
This week, the Mustangs faced Caravel Academy of Delaware in the opening round of the Diamond State Classic on Tuesday. Results were unavailable at press time. The Classic features a number of regional schools at well as teams from as far away as California, Oregon and Texas.
Thomas sees the Diamond State Classic as a good way to get ready for the remainder of district play, as well as a way to give his players more exposure.
“We’re trying to get our kids in the mix, too,” he said.
The Mustangs will also face new competition at the tournament.
“It’s going to be very good,” Thomas said. “Carvael’s team is very good. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Mustangs will continue to lean on their young front court of sophomore forward Cheney and freshman center Alexander. Junior Lauren Kane has also started to contribute.
While Thomas had figured that Cheney would be making an impact, he’s pleasantly surprised by the contributions the freshman Alexander has made.
“I expected it from Stephanie, but not from Ashley,” Thomas said. “I like her hustle. She’s put in the work.”
When considering the youth of his front court, Thomas chuckles, not unlike someone finding a hundred dollar bill in his coat pocket.
“I do believe,” Thomas said when asked if this young front court can lead the Mustangs this season. “These kids have their heads on straight. It’s a joy to be coaching them.”
The Mustangs’ next home game is Wednesday, January 5 against Tuscarora High at 7:30 p.m.