Boys Hoops Advance After Loss To Dan River High in Region Final

George Mason High School’s boys basketball team lost 67-60 in overtime to Dan River High School in the Region B tournament championship last Saturday. They watched a recording of that loss in preparation for their matchup against Essex High School this Saturday in the opening round of the Division 2 state tournament.

“We watched film as a team and the guys saw how flat-out lazy we were at crucial times, and they know we can’t afford that kind of stuff again or our season ends Saturday,” Coach Chris Capannola said.

Capannola said that if the Mustangs had executed at the end of regulation they would have had a chance of handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season. Instead, Dan River exploited George Mason’s lack of offensive ball movement and weak team defensive play.

“Dan River took away some of our ability to even start the offense, and we got a little impatient, too,” he said.

The Mustangs finished the first quarter with a 19-15 lead, but the Wildcats pulled ahead by the end of the second quarter and finished the half up 29-27. After three quarters, Dan River led 41-36 and both teams were knotted at 53 at the end of regulation.

Senior forward Nate Ogle led the Mustangs in scoring with 17 points. Senior guard/forward Philippe Griffiths followed that with 14 points, and senior guard Noel Obusan added 10 points to the Mustangs’ tally.

George Mason beat Stuarts Draft 49-47 last Thursday in the regional semifinals to advance to the game against Dan River. The Mustangs went scoreless for the first four minutes of the game while the Cougars went on a 7-0 run. After a timeout, the Mustangs went on a 22-3 run to finish the first period with a 22-10 lead. The Cougars erased much of that lead in the second quarter, but the Mustangs finished the half ahead 30-24.

Stuarts Draft outscored the Mustangs 16-6 in the third quarter to take a 40-36 lead. At one point in the quarter, the Mustangs turned the ball over on eight consecutive trips down the court.

George Mason held the Cougars scoreless for the final 4:53 of the game and came back from a five-point deficit to tie the game. Junior forward Will Nunley’s score after catching an inbounds pass from Ogle with under five seconds left gave the Mustangs a two-point lead.

The Cougars charged right back down the court with the final possession and nearly made an alley-oop layup with .9 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime. After spinning inside the rim, the ball slipped out of the basket and the Mustangs snuck into the Region B championships.

“The emotions were wild,” Capannola said. “I thought for sure [the Cougars’ shot] was going in. They played their hearts out, it was sad [for the Cougars] to lose like that, but I’m happy we gutted it out the way we did.”

Griffiths and Ogle both scored 11 points for the Mustangs. Nunley scored 10 points.

The Mustangs tip off against Essex at 12:45 p.m. Saturday at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center.