By Liz Lizama
Last week, George Mason High School’s boys varsity basketball team captured two more Bull Run District games with double-digit wins against rival Clarke County High School on Wednesday and Manassas Park High School on Friday. Mason’s Mustangs defeated the Clarke County Eagles 70-45 and the Manassas Park Cougars 66-36.
After a crucial win against Warren County the night before, the Mustangs entered last Wednesday’s game with the confidence needed to overcome their rivals. The Mustangs barely beat Clarke County earlier this season in an overtime game. Mason head coach Chris Capannola said at the time that they probably should have lost.
This time around, Mason proved to be a force early on in the game with a 23-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. “We were ready to play from the tip and it showed,” Capannola said. “We completely took Clarke out of any kind of flow on offense with our pressure.”
The Mustangs held a double-digit lead for the duration of the game with 25 steals and 19 assists on the team’s 28 baskets that night. “We were coming at them from all angles and they never got comfortable,” Capannola said.
Mason also shot 10-18 from the three-point line. Junior guard Thomas Beddow, who scored a career-high of 19 points, scored five of those 3-pointers. Junior forward Robert Tartt followed up Beddow’s effort with 16 points and junior guard Josh Allen contributed 11.
“Beating Clarke is always a highlight for us because it’s a rivalry game,” Capannola said. “They get up for us, and we get up for them.”
While Capannola said it was a dominating win, he expressed concern over the Mustangs’ 24 turnovers. “I think we were real amped up and tried to force some things. Turnovers are usually the result when that happens, but our three-point shooting and defense covered for that,” he said.
“We’re still undefeated in the Bull Run but have a long way to go to achieve our goals,” he said ahead of Friday night’s away game at Manassas Park.
Mason defeated Manassas Park 70-20 in their home opener the first time they faced them this season, but the first quarter remained close with Manassas Park ahead 1-0 for the first five minutes of regulation. The Mustangs ended the quarter leading just 12-9 against the Cougars.
“We started out real sluggish,” Capannola said. “When shots aren’t falling it’s hard to get into your press, and that’s what was happening. Once we found a few buckets we were fine.”
Mason dominated the second quarter with a 27-8 run, followed by a 17-6 run in the third quarter. Tartt led the Mustangs with 17 points and six steals against the Cougars.
Beddow scored 15 points, including four of the team’s eight 3-pointers. Junior guard Elliot Mercado also added 10 points and seven steals for Mason.
“Our constant defensive pressure wears teams out, especially teams that aren’t deep or aren’t great ball handlers,” Capannola said.
“That has been the key for us all season, turning the other team over and getting easy baskets,” he said of the team’s 29 total steals that night.
Mason’s game against William Monroe High School, originally scheduled for Wednesday night, was postponed due to inclement weather. In December, the Mustangs beat the William Monroe Dragons 45-34.