by Matt Delaney
Closing in on the regular season’s finale, George Mason’s varsity girls basketball team stumbled against a visiting Clarke County High School, losing 36-33 on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Mason trailed 28-26 going into the fourth quarter. Clarke County was teeming with momentum after taking the lead late in the third quarter and continued to stymie the Mustangs on both ends of the court.
On offense they were able to collect rebounds and score on second and third chances. On defense the Eagles kept Mason out of the lane, forcing them into uncomfortable shots. The combination gave Clarke County a 32-27 lead, and eventually a 35-29 advantage that felt gaping given Mason’s decline in offense throughout the second half.
With two minutes left, the Mustangs gathered themselves and mounted a comeback. Senior forward Shelby Fields made one free throw while junior guard Sarah Lubnow rolled in a lay-up and converted the and-one to pull Mason within two at 35-33. However, foul trouble granted Clarke County a trip to the line in the final seconds to ice the game.
The Mustangs started promisingly. Leading just 4-3 early, Mason’s passing attack caught fire when it helped them get ahead 10-3. Going into halftime Mason led 20-15 and didn’t lose the lead until a 6-0 run by Clarke County to close the third foreshadowed the game’s end.
Clarke County played respectably, but this game was more about Mason’s falter than anything else. The Mustangs were controlling the flow of action for the first two and a half quarters until they substituted field goals for turnovers. Clarke County made the most of their extra possessions by finding their rhythm while Mason’s turnovers and trouble from the charity strike left their offense ineffective.
Weather caused Monday’s game against Strasburg High School to be canceled, but the Mustangs defeated Madison County High School 51-19 in their final game of the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Mason plays Clarke County in the first round of the Conference 35 tournament at home on Saturday, Feb. 13.