by Matt Delaney
George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team steamrolls through another Bull Run District opponent, defeating Rappahannock County High School 76-20 on Thursday, Jan. 7. Then they played Madison County High School on Tuesday, Jan. 12 and beat the Mountaineers 71-61, laying claim to a 14-0 overall record.
A win is always well-received, but again the Mustangs failed to be challenged. In their past two games they’ve decimated opponents by a combined score of 147-64. This isn’t news since the team went undefeated in the district and conference last season and have striven to continue that trend this year, but it didn’t help once the postseason began.
Regardless of that reality, the team has matured and they don’t take winning for granted the way they did last season when they were in an identical position.
“That’s what happened last year, but this year’s a lot different,” senior guard Josh Allen said. “It feels like each game we’re not bored of winning by this much and last year we sort of got bored of it.”
Head coach Chris Capannola, who conceded that these kind of games present a unique challenge since they don’t require his best as a coach, expounded on the difficulty of keeping his team in a competitive frame of mind as they deal with the same issue.
“That’s the main thing [assistant coach] Jason [Millison] and I [emphasize]. You gotta play the next game,” Capannola said.
“It’s cliché, but you can’t look at what you did, who you beat by how much, [because] at some point someone’s gonna be even with you and someone’s gonna fight back.”
Still, this is a savvy squad. They know last year’s early exit was a fluke and are intent on proving it. Both Allen and Capannola reflected that sentiment in their postgame comments.
“When we know that we’re gonna beat a team we still know to go all out,” Allen said. “So that when we’re playing a tough team that’s going to be a close we still go all out.”
“These guys are great at focusing, complete credit to them,” Capannola said. “They know they gotta practice hard, they gotta play hard every game. Once the score gets lopsided…then they’ve done their job….They really maintained focused for the first 13 games like champions.”
People must’ve expected Mason to mop the floor with the visiting Panthers since Mustang Gym’s typically reliable home stands were rather empty for last Thursday’s tip-off. And the game lived up to expectations.
Mason jumped out to a 15-2 lead after eight consecutive points from Allen and never looked back.
A 21-5 lead entering the second quarter allowed the reserves some brief playing time, but starters were inserted back in soon after and closed out the half up 41-12 after a lengthy scoring run.
The Mustangs starters kept their foot on the gas for the third quarter, piling on another 21 points and ramping score up to 62-14.
Reserves rounded out the final quarter by adding 14 points of their own and limited Rappahannock County to only six points themselves, preventing the Panthers from scoring double-digits in a single quarter all night.
Not much can be taken from these blowouts that will help down the road, but Capannola acknowledged that it’s a good opportunity for some role reversal on the sideline. Bench players get some time on the court while the starters root them on, so everybody’s happy.
Even with the feel-goodness that ensued after beating Rappahannock County, the team remains steadfast on what is left to be accomplished.
“Keep winning, go undefeated,” Allen said. “There’s some better teams this year that’re gonna be better competition, so it’ll definitely feel good if we stay undefeated.”
They face Clarke County High School at home on Thursday, Jan. 14.