Sports

Lady Mustangs Still On Track for 3rd Consecutive State Crown

The George Mason High School girls basketball team has something to enjoy that it’s not entirely use to.

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MASON COACH LABRYAN THOMAS and the Lady Mustangs cruised in the VHSL state semifinal game and will play in the Final Four this Friday. (Photo: Gary mester)

The George Mason High School girls basketball team has something to enjoy that it’s not entirely use to.

A few days off.

The Mustangs next game is the Virginia High School League Division 2 state tournament semifinal this Friday. The team last played in the quarterfinals on Saturday, making for a span of six days off for the team.

This contrasts with the tail end of the Region B tournament that Mason won, when the team weather delays forced the girls to play three games in four night.

“It helps the girls,” said Mason head coach LaBryan Thomas of the days off, who added that Monday included some light shooting and he’ll increase the practice intensity as the week progresses. “It gives them a chance to get a little rest in.”

The Mustangs needed a breather after Saturday’s quarterfinal against rival Lancaster at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. Mason won 81-43. The 81 points scored is the highest output of the season for this year’s team. Mason is now 23-5 and has won 16 consecutive contests.

“We struggled a little bit in the beginning with defensive pressure,” Thomas said of the game against Lancaster. He called an early time out to get his team squared away. “After the first two or three minutes of the game, our defensive pressure was great. We really got after it. We pressured the ball. They had a lot of turnovers. The kids really got after it.”

Last weekend marked the third consecutive year Mason and Lancaster had locked horns in the state tournament.

“It’s a whole different team,” Thomas said of this year’s Lancaster squad. “They’re younger and more balanced than last year’s team. We really had to get after all of them.”

 

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Stephanie Cheney led the Lady Mustangs with 32 points in her team’s lopsided win last Saturday. (Photo: Gary Mester)

On Friday in Richmond, Mason faces Radford in the state semifinals.

“Radford’s going to be a challenge for us also,” Thomas said. “It poses a whole other level of intensity this time around. If we come out and just do what we’re best at, and that’s playing great defense, I think we’ll be alright. This time of year, you’re playing a whole lot better teams. I expect nothing less. It’s probably going to be a tough game on Friday.”

That the George Mason girls basketball teams is attempting to win its third consecutive Division 2 state title is quite remarkable. Turnover frequently leads to even accomplished schools taking a step back every couple of years. And with a young core – there’s only one senior on the team – the fact that the Mustangs are back in Richmond again is quite the feat.

“They didn’t expect us to be around again,” Thomas said. “Everybody thought it was going to be a rebuilding year. When you’ve got a bunch of girls that play basketball all the time, anything can happen. And as you can see, we’re back again.”

The George Mason High School girls basketball team plays in the Virginia High School League Division 2 state semifinals against Radford at 12:15 p.m. on Friday at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond.

The finals are 3 p.m. on Saturday.