by Liz Lizama
George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team ended their regular season undefeated with an 81-45 home win against Madison County High School last Wednesday and 68-47 at Warren County High School on Friday. On Monday, the Mustangs then kicked off the Bull Run District tournament with an 83-33 win against Rappahannock County High School.
Mason kicked off their final home game with a 14-0 run against Madison County, ending the first quarter 25-10. The Mustangs maintained a double-digit lead over the Mountaineers for the remainder of the game.
“We once again took the opponent out early,” said Mason head coach Chris Capannola after the games against Madison County and Warren County. “With our swarming defense, we didn’t let either team back in the game.”
The Mustangs had 23 assists against Madison and only 4 turnovers. “That’s a pretty good formula for winning basketball games at any level,” he said.
Junior forward Robert Tartt and junior guard Elliot Mercado both led the Mustangs with 14 points apiece over the Mountaineers. Junior guard Josh Allen added ten points, and junior center Douglas Bossart followed with eight points.
In their final game of the regular season, the Mustangs travelled to Warren County where they jumped to an early 14-2 lead and ended the first quarter 24-9.
“We shared the ball great and even more importantly, didn’t turn it over,” Capannola said. “That’s the whole key – causing turnovers and limiting our own.”
Mercado led the team against the Wildcats with 15 points, followed by Tartt with 13 points. Beddow contributed 12 points, all three-pointers.
“Three-pointers are huge momentum plays, and when a team gets hot from beyond the arc and runs in transition the way we do, things tend to snowball.” Capannola said. “We have capitalized on that momentum all season, and we need to keep that up now that the postseason is here.”
Mason set off a good start in the Bull Run District tournament with a 21-0 lead over the Rappahannock County Panthers.
While the starters played about 8 minutes total, Capannola commended the bench players for carrying the team for the remainder of the game. Allen led the team with 14 points, followed by senior guard Marcus Zack Russell with ten and Tartt with nine.
The Mustangs faced Madison County again on Wednesday night, but this time in the semifinal round of the Bull Run District tournament. “If we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we will be tough to beat,” Capannola said ahead of the game. Results were not yet available at press time.
While Capannola hopes to maintain the momentum to go far in the postseason, the Mustangs have dominated most their opponents with a 20-0 regular season record this season. Moreover, the team has only given up 50 points twice all season – once to Clarke County High School in their first game of the season and once to Robert E. Lee High School in the Joe Cascio Classic holiday tournament.
“That speaks to how good our defense is all the way up and down the lineup because we play all 15 guys most games. And even when the bench guys come in, they don’t allow the other teams to score much,” Capanola said. “It’s a team thing, and they take pride in that.”