by Liz Lizama
With a 68-44 win against Madison County High School last Wednesday, the George Mason High School varsity boys basketball team advanced to the Bull Run District tournament final the following day where they defeated Strasburg High School 54-41.
While Mason head coach Chris Capannola said the team was not all that sharp against Madison’s Mountaineers, the team still delivered. “Every time they scored, it seemed we answered – and that’s a good sign,” he said.
Mason’s Mustangs led 22-12 at the end of the first quarter and picked up their defense there forward, leading to 14 steals and forcing 25 turnovers. With 16 assists and only 7 turnovers for the Mustangs, the team secured a double-digit lead to win the game.
Also scoring 9-18 from the three-point line, Mason’s shooting proved to hold down their opponents. Junior guard Thomas Beddow scored four of the team’s nine three-pointers. Coupled with four two-point shots, Beddow led the Mustangs with a personal season high of 20 points.
Junior forward Robert Tartt followed with 17 points, and junior guard Josh Allen added 15 points, which included three shots from behind the arc.
Following the semifinals win against Madison, top seed Mason faced off #3 seed Strasburg on Thursday for the Bull Run District title.The match started off close in the first quarter with the Strasburg Rams leading 11-10 until the Mustangs managed a 7-0 run to close the quarter in the lead 17-11. Mason then led a 20-0 run in the second quarter to bring up the score with a solid 30-11 lead.
The Rams came back in the third quarter and closed the gap to 43-35, trailing behind just 8 points. But Mason’s Beddow responded with a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter 46-35 with Mason still leading. The Mustangs maintained the lead through the fourth quarter to win the game by 13 points.
Tartt led the Mustangs against Strasburg with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Elliot Mercado followed with 12 points and Beddow with 7 points.
“The challenge against Strasburg always is they don’t panic,” said Capannola. “Most teams we can get to play frantic when we’re pressing, but ‘Burg stays calm and runs their offense and plays solid defense. You really have to keep your focus because they don’t get rattled.”
Adding to the Mason history books, Allen, Mercado and Tartt made First Team All-District, and Tartt was named District Player of the Year. This is the second time a Mason player has won that honor. Noel Obusan earned that distinction in 2011-12.
As the top seed in the Virginia High School League’s Conference 35, Mason earned a bye in the regional tournament and is scheduled to play this Friday against the winner of tonight’s game between Madison County High School and Page County High School.