George Mason High School’s girls basketball team beat Sussex Central High School 66-36 last Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Virginia High School League state tournament.
“Any time you can get a quarterfinal win, it’s a good thing,” Coach LaBryan Thomas said.
The rout got off to a slow start for the Lady Mustangs, who led the Lady Tigers 14-9 after the first quarter. Thomas admitted earlier last week that he did not have much information on the competition, and said his team needed the opening quarter to feel out their opponents.
“We didn’t really have a feel for them [at first],” junior forward Stephanie Cheney said.
Cheney hit a 3-pointer at the beginning of the second quarter that got George Mason’s offense going. They stretched their slight first quarter lead to a 39-20 lead by the end of the second quarter and ran away with the game from that point. George Mason outscored Sussex Central 19-9 in the third quarter and 8-7 in the fourth.
Cheney and senior forward Lauren Kane led the Mustangs in scoring with 23 points each. Cheney added nine rebounds, two blocks and three steals to the team’s effort.
Kane has played an instrumental role in her team’s success this year after sitting out much of last year with an ankle injury. She played in the team’s state tournament run last year, but said she feels “more comfortable” and “more consistent” from spending more time playing with the team this season.
Freshman forward Katie Goodwin scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Cheney said players like Goodwin can come off the bench and change the whole momentum of a game.
“Katie hits some clutch shots, but she’s a rebounding machine,” Thomas said.
After the game, Thomas talked more about getting younger players experience in a state tournament setting.
“Overall it helps the whole program when you have ninth graders get so much playing time. The second and third [teams] help spell the starters,” he said.
Senior guard Leah Roth dished out eight assists, stole the ball three times, grabbed four rebounds and added six points to her team’s tally.
Thomas said this has been the “toughest road” to the state semifinals in the last five years they have been making trips to the tourney. George Mason beat Central High School, a district opponent that handed them their first home loss in four years, to get to the regional finals and then lost in the championship round to Stuarts Draft High School.
Stuarts Draft beat Northumberland High School 61-42 in the state quarterfinals and will play Gate City High School in the semifinal round tonight at 7 p.m.
The Lady Mustangs play Glenvar High School in their state semifinal matchup Thursday at 8:45 p.m. The winners of those games will play in the state championship on Saturday at 3 p.m. All games will be played in the Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.