By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team finished in eighth place in the third annual Joe Cascio Holiday Classic tournament last week. The Mustangs lost to Freedom High School and Lee High School after being bounced from the first round by Falls Church High School, who hosted the tournament, in a 57-51 loss.
“We were completely outworked, out-hustled,” Coach Chris Capannola said about the Mustangs’ effort against Falls Church. “I told the guys … it was the first time I questioned whether they really want to be out there or not.”
The Mustangs opened the game with a 7-0 run. The Jaguars came back into the game with a 9-2 run and tied the game at nine points after applying a full-court press. George Mason finished off the first quarter with a 6-1 run and a 15-10 lead. The Jaguars used the full-court press throughout the game to exploit the Mustangs’ weakness in the guard position.
“We’ve got to get better, guard-wise,” Capannola said. “Teams know they are going to press us. They see us and they know we’re not very good at it at the moment.”
George Mason escaped the second half with a 27-25 lead with help from sophomore guard Doug Mason, who scored 10 points in the first two quarters. He said playing in tournaments like the holiday classic help younger players – eight of the 14 players on the Mustangs’ roster are in their first year on the varsity team – because they get to see a higher level of competition.
“It’s always good for us because they’re bigger,” said Mason, who led the Mustangs in scoring with 19 points against the Jaguars. “[They’re] a bigger school obviously so they have a bigger talent pool and it gives us a little time to have fun as a team. Obviously not tonight because we lost, but in the next couple games hopefully we have a little more fun but it’s always good because during the holidays we get to play these games so they help us during our Bull Run season.”
The Mustangs lost the lead at the beginning of the third quarter when a Jaguars senior guard/forward hit a 3-pointer. George Mason stayed close, even tying the game a few times in the third, but never regained the lead.
Seniors Will Nunley and Nick Bourbeau, who combined for 17 points against the Jaguars, sat on the bench until just under the six-minute mark and the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter, respectively. A combination of foul trouble for both of the seniors and, according to Capannola, an attempt to get younger players game experience in a non-regular season game kept the pair on the bench.
“You go in telling the guys everyone is going to play, we want to get minutes for everybody, get your confidence up, all this and that,” Capannola said. “But then when a game’s close, you know, certain guys need to be in there.”
The Mustangs went on to lose to the Freedom Eagles 54-43 in the opening round of the consolation bracket last Friday, followed by a 54-53 loss to the Lee Lancers in the seventh-place game on Saturday. George Mason will travel to Rappahannock County High School tonight and William Monroe High School next Tuesday for games.