The George Mason High School varsity boys basketball team opened the second half of the season last Tuesday with a 68-25 rout of district opponent Strasburg High School. After the Rams scored the first four points of the game, the Mustangs went on a 17-0 run over the course of the first half and bult on that lead the rest of the game.
“We played a complete ballgame,” said coach Chris Capannola. “Our defense was suffocating, we controlled the boards, and we ran our offense as well as we have all season. Everybody contributed. It was a dominating performance – one we have waited all season for.”
The Mustangs sank 12 three-pointers against the Rams and four players scored in double digits. Senior guard Noel Obusan led the Mustangs with 13 points and seven assists, senior guard Eion Oosterbaan scored 11 points and dealt four assists, and senior guard/forward Philippe Griffiths added 10 points. Obusan, Oosterbaan and Griffiths hit seven of the 12 three-pointers. Senior forward Nate Ogle played a well-rounded game with 10 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Capannola said “a total breakdown in communication” on the defensive end of the ball led to a 60-54 Mason loss to Yorktown High School on Dec. 28 in the second round of the Joe Cascio Holiday Classic. The Mustangs went on to beat Freedom High School 50-37 last Thursday to place third overall in the tournament played in memory of Cascio, an assistant varsity basketball coach at Falls Church High School who died of brain cancer in 2010.
The Mustangs fell to an early 11-point deficit to the Yorktown Patriots before cutting the lead to five by the end of the first half. The Patriots opened the lead back up to 10 points by the end of the third quarter and then Oosterbaan hit two of his four three-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Mustangs get back within 10.Ogle led all scorers with 14 points and Oosterbaan scored 13 points. Obusan hit all of his 11 points in the fourth quarter in an attempt to put the team on his back. But defensive lapses, missed field goals and missed free throws in the fourth quarter outweighed the Mustang effort. The Mustangs went 7-15 from the charity stripe in the fourth while the Patriots hit 15 of 18. Yorktown went on to win the tournament in a 44-37 victory over Thomas Jefferson High School.
Mason won the third-place game against a familiar opponent. The Mustangs beat Freedom High School earlier this season in a 61-47 victory on Dec. 7. In the win last Thursday, the Mustangs and the Eagles played close until the Mustangs pulled away with a 15-6 fourth quarter. Ogle scored a team-high 20 points and snatched 13 rebounds, and Griffiths scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the effort. Both Ogle and Griffiths sank four of five free throws against the Eagles.
“[Ogle] was a beast all night – they had nobody to handle him down low and our guards found him in the right spots and let him go to work,” Capannola said. “Griffiths hit a couple threes, as he always does, but I was really pleased with him taking the ball to the paint a little and using his pull up jumper.”
The Mustangs will travel to Rappahannock County High School Friday to take on the Panthers in a district match-up.