by Liz Lizama
After inclement weather postponed last Wednesday’s game against William Monroe High School, the George Mason High School boys varsity basketball team returned the following day with a 55-36 home win against the Dragons last Thursday. The win marks the second time this season Mason’s Mustangs beat the Dragons, who currently stand second to Mason in the Bull Run District standings.
While Mason finished with a double-digit lead, the game remained close in the first half. The first quarter ended with an 11-18 Mustang lead, and the second quarter saw eight more points for both teams.
The Mustangs struggled from the field in the second quarter, making just 3 of 11 shots. Mason head coach Chris Capannola said junior guard D’Montae Noble did give the Mustangs a huge spark with two consecutive steals and layups to put the team up five points in the second quarter.
Mason led by only seven points at the end of the first half, but there wasn’t any panic in the locker room during halftime, according to Capannola. “We knew if we continued to pressure them, we would eventually be able to get the pace more to our liking,” he said. “I told them the goal at the end of the third quarter was a double-digit lead, and we wound up ahead by 12.”
With a 12-7 run in the third quarter and 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Mason finished with a 19-point lead over Monroe. “We come in with fresh guys off the bench, and the other teams a lot of times just wear down,” Capannola said.
Junior guard and starter Elliot Mercado led the Mustangs with a season high of 20 points against the Dragons. Expressing how proud he was of Mercado, Capannola said it was his best game of his three-year career on the team so far.
“He controlled the game on offense, made his shots, got us into our plays and defended really well too,” he said. “He has the capability to be the best player in the Bull Run if he’ll play the way he did against Monroe. He was having fun out there and playing hard and being the team leader we need him to be.”
Following Mercado’s efforts, junior guard Josh Allen, junior center Douglas Bossart and junior forward Robert Tartt each added eight points for the Mustangs.
Tartt played less than usual this game as a result of foul trouble but still managed eight points and six rebounds in just the first half. “It’s great that our emotional leader can be out for extended minutes and we still have the guys coming in that can do the job,” Capannola said.
Mason finished the game with 16 steals, including six for Mercado. Capannola said that makes 85 steals in the last four games for the Mustangs. “Those numbers are unheard of, but our pressure defense is getting to people early and often,” he said.
As playoffs quickly approach, Capannola said he is excited to see how much better the team can get though the games will get tougher.
Due to inclement weather, last Friday’s game at Central Woodstock High School was rescheduled to Monday, Feb. 2 and Saturday’s game against Luray High School was cancelled.
In a regularly scheduled game at home this Wednesday, Mason faced Rappahannock County High School. Results were not yet available at press time. The Mustangs are scheduled to play at Strasburg High School this Friday and at home against Madison County High School next Wednesday.