George Mason High School’s varsity basketball team stomped Manassas Park High School 79-33 Tuesday during senior night honoring the nine Mustang seniors graduating this spring.
The opening minutes of the game were closely contested, but the Mustangs pulled away from the Cougars starting with a first-quarter buzzer beater by senior guard Eion Oosterbaan that put George Mason ahead by eight. Oosterbaan’s bucket started a 17-point run by the Mustangs that ended when the Cougars scored two points with a minute left in the second quarter. George Mason took a 38-15 lead at halftime and ran away with the game from there.
Senior forwards Nate Ogle and Philippe Griffiths both scored 13 points, while senior guard Jeremy Stewart added seven points. The five other Mustang seniors are Stephen Lubnow, Drew Nickle, Noel Obusan, Will Powell and Dimitri Venets.
“I played with Nate since fourth grade,” Venets said of the strong bonds within the team. “Noel, I was one of his best friends when he first came here in fourth grade. Eion, I’ve known him since about sixth grade. Philippe came here sophomore year, but we’ve been best friends ever since. Stephen’s [been] my best friend since fifth grade. We’re all great friends. That’s just how it is. Will Powell’s my best friend, Drew, all those guys,” he said. “That’s what a team needs [to have] chemistry.”
Stewart echoed Venets’ sentiments. “I’ve been playing with Phil, Dimitri, Noel, and all those guys for maybe like six years,” he said. “And that chemistry feels really good on the court. Sometimes it will be off. But a lot of times when it’s on, it’s really strong so you can imagine how strong it is between Nate and I after 10 or 13 years of playing together.”
The senior night win came after George Mason lost to William Monroe High School 54-46 last Friday. Timid guard play, poor rebounding and inability to defend the Dragons’ post players were cited as reasons for the Mustangs’ loss. Obusan and Griffiths scored 10 points each, and junior forward Will Nunley added eight.
“We sort of let them dictate to us how the game was going to go,” Coach Chris Capannola said. “It was a physical game. We weren’t up for the challenge, but still we cut the lead to three points with a minute left. I think that gave us confidence – knowing that if we do what were suppose, hopefully, we’re going to be OK.”
The loss tied the teams at the top of the Bull Run District standings and forced a one-game playoff between the Mustangs and Dragons for the regular season district title Thursday. Taking the title means the top seed and home court advantage in the district tournament and an automatic two seed in the northern region tournament.