The George Mason High School girls varsity basketball team was still “on holiday break,” according to coach LaBryan Thomas, during their 60-38 loss to the Chantilly Chargers in the first round of the Pohanka Chantilly Classic Tuesday. Except for a competitive first quarter and close play at the beginning of second and third quarters, the Lady Mustangs were dominated in all facets of the game.
“We didn’t play well at all. I have to give credit to Chantilly. They took total advantage of how we played,” Thomas said.
Thomas cited defensive efforts at the start of the second and third quarter as bright spots in the team’s play against Chantilly, but eventually that resistance waned to the relentless Charger offense. Chantilly ended both quarters with 7-0 runs.
“The defensive pressure was there, but we couldn’t sustain it,” Thomas said. “We ran out of gas.”
The Lady Mustangs also failed to take advantage of some of Chantilly’s early mistakes. Junior forward Stephanie Cheney led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore center Ashley Alexander scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. But when the Lady Mustangs were in double bonus at the end of the first half and only down by seven, Cheney and Alexander, the Mason players with the highest free throw percentage going into the Chantilly game, missed six straight free throws as Chantilly scored seven unanswered points. Senior forward Lauren Kane added eight points and four rebounds.
Thomas said a lack of practice over the holiday break “got everybody out of gear.” The team held no practices over the five-day period between the Dec. 27 game and their Dec. 21 game against the Central High Falcons.
The Lady Mustangs ran laps around the depleted Falcons in the 65-43 route at Central High School. Falcon starting point guard Katelyn Poston was out with a concussion and they only had six bench players, so the Lady Mustangs employed a strategy of rotating in fresh players which wore down Central High.
“We took advantage of them being out of sync,” Thomas said. Cheney scored 18 points and snatched six rebounds, and Kane added 17 points and 10 rebounds to the effort.
“I think it will be a different story when they come to play us at home [on Jan. 24],” Thomas said of the upcoming re-match against Central High. They are expected to have Poston and several bench players back in action by then.
Thomas held a practice 9 a.m. Wednesday morning hoping his team would play better in future action and it payed off. The Lady Mustangs topped Thomas Jefferson High in the loser bracket of the Classic, 70-52, Wednesday.
The team will host Strasburg High School at home on Wednesday, Jan. 4.