George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team showed growing depth in its low-post this past week. Junior forward Will Nunley’s emergence in the last four games as a go-to low-post bench player has been a revelation for the Mustangs, as they extended their regular season win streak to 14 games. Senior forward Dimitri Venets, who has worked on transitioning from the guard to forward position this season, also showed more tenacity and comfort in the low-post this past week.
“I feel like since the beginning of the year I have improved my game and have become more confident in my abilities,” Nunley said. Nunley and Venets both said they attribute their growth to Saturday practices with Mike Gilroy, the Mustangs’ assistant coach, where they focus on improving their post play.
Nunley had a career-high of 12 points in the Mustang 69-51 win over Central High School last Wednesday and four points and three rebounds in a 55-50 win over Strasburg last Friday. He stepped up in the place of senior forward Nate Ogle, who injured his knee against The Avalon School on Monday. He bested his career-high by a point and grabbed four rebounds in a 59-48 victory over the Black Knights. Nunley, along with senior guard Jeremy Stewart, led the team with 13 points in a 90-16 scoring extravaganza against Rappahannock County Tuesday. He riled up the home crowd in the fourth quarter against the Panthers when he stole the ball and broke away on a fast break that ended with a confident two-hand dunk. He said it was “very exciting” to be able to dunk in a game because he had been doing it all season in practices after dunking for the first time over the off-season.
“He is one of those kids that comes to work everyday and never really takes a day off,” said Gilroy, who encourages Nunley to dunk every game and was glad to see his first career dunk.
Gilroy, who was the head coach of George Mason’s junior varsity team when Nunley was a freshman in high school, said that he cut Nunley originally but that “he gets better everyday.”
Venets has not shown up in statistical categories as much as Nunley in the past week, but coach Gilroy has worked with Venets since he was a freshman and has been able to chart his growth.
“He is not a natural post obviously and to see him progress this year is really a testament to his hard work,” Gilroy said. “I’ve talked to him about being that dirty/glue guy and to not worry about scoring because we have plenty of scorers, what we need out of him is defense and rebounding.”
Gilroy thanks head coach Chris Capannola for giving him the latitude to groom Nunley and Venets this season.
“To know that he trusts me in teaching these kids really helps me out,” Gilroy said.
The Mustangs travel to William Monroe Friday, and then come home for their senior night game against Manassas Park on Tuesday.