by Liz Lizama
George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team added two more wins to their record this past week with a 63-47 win against The Avalon School and 68-35 against Warren County High School.
In last Wednesday’s game, Mason’s Mustangs held just a 13-10 lead over the Avalon Black Knights at the end of the first quarter, but second quarter the Mustangs pushed forward 26-7 to end the half at 39-17. The Black Knights led in scoring 13-11 in the third quarter and 17-13 the fourth quarter but fell short of closing the lead to win the game.
Junior forward Robert Tartt led the Mustangs with 16 points against the Black Knights. Junior guard Josh Allen scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Junior guard Elliot Mercado also added 11 points for Mason.
“We pressured the ball really well against Avalon,” said Mason head coach Chris Capannola. “We installed a trapping zone defense that we tried out and it worked great. We got a lot of steals and turnovers off of it, and we also forced a lot of quick shots, which is what we wanted.”
In addition to effective defensive strategies, Mason focused on shooting the ball well, which Capannola said is becoming more of a trend.
“Our shooters are shooting and knocking down shots. Sounds simple, but it really isn’t,” he said.
Mason had almost a week break before facing Warren County on Tuesday in a game Capannola said should give the team confidence to go against Clarke County High School the following day if they played well.
The Mustangs kicked off the game against the Warren County Wildcats with a solid 27-13 lead in the first quarter. Mason maintained a double-digit lead for the duration of the game, outscoring Warren County each quarter.
Tartt again led the Mustangs with 24 points, with 20 in the first half alone. “Tartt was an absolute beast last night [Tuesday],” said Capannola. “He has a motor that never stops running, he is as relentless a competitor as I have ever coached in any sport. And when he gets running and crashing the boards and getting steals like he did yesterday, he is unstoppable. He rebounded and defended and passed too.”
Junior guard Thomas Beddow also added 12 points, which included four of the team’s nine 3-pointers this game. “This team is very deep, and we all know a kid like Thomas Beddow can go off any given night, as well as a few others who aren’t starters,” said Capannola. “Our starting backcourt combined for 11 points last night; the three who came in for them off the bench scored 18. It speaks to the skill level and versatility of the kids, and their unselfishness. They are all happy for whoever is the hot guy that night or that half or that quarter. There are no jealousies.”
The win against Warren County puts Mason at 8-0 in the Bull Run District and 12-1 overall. The Mustangs played Clarke County on Wednesday in a key district rematch, but results of the game were not available at press time. “They took us to overtime at their place in a game we quite frankly should have lost, so we have to be ready for their physicality and their switching defenses,” said Capannola.
“With no appreciable drop-off in intensity and skill level between our top guys and our bench guys, we are a nightmare to match up with when we’re going good. Hopefully we can keep it up tonight [Wednesday] against Clarke.”