George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team opened up the 2014-15 season with a 64-58 overtime at Clarke County High School on Tuesday, avenging their back-to-back, season-ending losses to the Clarke County Eagles (0-1, 0-1) last season.
“We didn’t play well at all but managed to somehow win the game. We started okay and went up 9-3 but Clarke came right back and exploited our lack of discipline on both ends of the floor,” said Mason head coach Chris Capannola.
“It was like that throughout, for the most part, but we did just enough to win it at the very end.”
Capannola said that two of Mason’s newcomers, junior Devin Thomas and sophomore Dustin Green, were their best players against the Eagles.
Thomas scored 12 points for the Mustangs (1-0, 1-0) and Green added six points and went 4-4 from the free throw line, including two in overtime to put the Mustangs ahead by four point.
“[Thomas] played an excellent all-around game…and played with energy and fire. [Green] was also very good – he knows how to play and has a court presence much beyond his years.”
Mason junior forward Robert Tartt led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounds with 17 points and 11 boards. The Mustangs’ junior guards Elliot Mercado and Josh Allen, scored 14 and nine points, respectively.
Another junior guard for Mason, Thomas Beddow, added six points to the Mustangs’ tally, including a three-pointer to tie the score with under a minute to play in regulation.
Mason’s defeat of Clarke County, a perennial rival and district foe, might have marked a coming of age for the once young Mustang varsity team – they were bounced from both the Bull Run District and Conference 35 tournaments by the Eagles last season on back-to-back Mondays.
But Capannola said that his players didn’t play all that well in their Tuesday revenge win over the Eagles.
“Clarke is always a tough match up for us due to their physical strength…They switch screens and have guys who can guard multiple positions, and they always give us trouble, especially at their place,” Capannola said.
“We played poorly most of the night and made some mistakes that quite frankly were unexplainable, but to win on the road in a district game is big no matter who the opponent.”
Amongst other observations of things the Mustangs need to work on going into their game against Manassas Park High School on Thursday, Capannola said that his team’s offensive execution was “very poor” on Tuesday night.
“Our post play was non existent and we had too many guys running around doing their own thing, not knowing score and time situations, not running plays correctly, and we played really bad half court defense at times,” Capannola said.
“It was just game one, and nerves and uncertainty played a big part in that. But our discipline must improve right away, we will hammer that home from here on out as the season moves along.”
The Mustangs host Manassas Park tonight in their first home game of the season. The Cougars have a new head coach, Kevin Toland, and possibly a new system, so Capannola said he just wants his team to do what they do best.
“I don’t know much about them this year but really, our talent level is such that we need to do what we do and do it well and do it at maximum effort and intensity. Without that it doesn’t matter what the opponent does,” Capannola said.
“Hopefully last night woke us up some and knocked some of our guys down a peg. You can’t just play undisciplined basketball on both ends and expect to win too many games. We’ll get where we need to be soon.”