The Mustangs can make history. After an outstanding regular season, The George Mason High School boys basketball team is one victory away from hosting the Bull Run District tournament.
“Last time we won the district was 10 years ago,” said coach Chris Capannola. “I’m going to say that we have not hosted [it].”
The Mustangs face Clarke County High School tomorrow night at Strasburg for a one-game playoff. Both teams are tied for first in district. The winner will be the regular season champion, and will host the district tournament semifinals.
Clarke has been Mason’s toughest rival this season. The teams faced each other twice, splitting their season series. In their first encounter in January, Clarke was on a three game win streak. Mason won the game by three points, 42-39, and took over the district lead.
The Mustang victory put the pressure on the Eagles when they met last Thursday. This time, it was Clarke’s turn to end Mason’s eight-game winning streak, beating them in 63-37.
“We knew what was at stake going into the game, but we also knew that they [Clarke] had to win this game, whereas we didn’t,” coach Chris Capannola said. “We started out playing even, but foul trouble forced both our point guards to the bench with three fouls each in the second quarter, and Clarke took full advantage.”
Without junior point guards Noel Obusan and Eion Oosterbaan on the floor, Mason was unable to pace the offense. Junior Nate Ogle led the team with nine points.
“It was a game they were desperate to win, and to their credit they did that,” Capannola said. “We controlled our own destiny before the Clarke loss, and we control our destiny now, so that loss doesn’t hurt as much as you might think.”
After the loss, the Mustangs had two games left in the regular season schedule to get back on the winning track. And they did.
The Mustangs finished their regular season with two victories in consecutive days. Mason easily beat Rappahannock County, 77-21, in an away game on Monday with senior Shawn Boyles leading the way with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The next day, the Mustangs came home for senior night against Strasburg High and beat the Rams, 59-38, even though they “were really slow” on the floor, according to Capannola.
“Yesterday’s game [against Rappahannock] wasn’t much of a challenge, and looking ahead on Thursday [Feb. 10] contributed to more of a sluggish feeling for us tonight [against Strasburg],” Capannola said. “But again, they [Mason] did what they had to do.”
Junior Philippe Griffiths led the Mustangs with 21 points. Senior Crawford Taylor added six rebounds.
Taylor and his fellow seniors Brandon Alexander, Franky Andrianarison, Shawn Boyles and Ryan Moot were honored by Mason. Capannola put all seniors on the floor to end the game. Even though it was senior night, it may not be the last time they play in the Mustang gym.
“Hopefully the seniors will have the chance to play three more times here,” Capannola said. “If we win against Clarke, we will host the tournament. If we win the tournament, we will host the regional game here. There could be at least three more games which would be great.”
Mason faces Clarke County tomrrow, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at Strasburg High School.