by Matt Delaney
Keeping up their winning ways were George Mason’s varsity boys basketball team, who got a gutty 69-61 victory on the road against Strasburg High School and are now 2-0 on the season.
The game itself was a seesaw battle between two evenly matched teams. Strasburg controlled the tempo early and was streaking from the field as they drained 10 of 11 to start the contest, giving them a 24-18 lead by the end of the first quarter. Yet the Mustangs weren’t deterred by Strasburg’s impressive opening run and doubled their efforts in the second, which paid off as they put up 15 points to the Rams’ nine and closed a six-point deficit to head into halftime tied at 33.
Mason turned up the heat defensively in the second half to try and slow Strasburg’s offense down.
It worked, but also left the Mustangs exhausted and played its part in a share of turnovers that transitioned into gimme lay-ups for the Rams.
The result was a slim 50-48 lead to start the final frame, but the Mustangs’ “bend don’t break” mentality allowed them to hold off Strasburg just enough and seal the win with some late-game free throws.
“There are going to be growing pains for sure,” head coach Chris Capannola said.
“We missed some assignments defensively and made some open court turnovers which gave them a few easy buckets, but overall we got better as the game went on.”
Just as it was in the opener against Trinity School at Meadow View, sophomores Max Ashton and Hollman Smith led the scoring charge with 24 and 23 points respectively.
Ashton delivered inside and outside the arc with 10 total field goals, four of which came from downtown. Meanwhile, Smith’s midrange skills made another strong showing as he sank eight of his nine field goals in close quarters.
Other notable stats came from junior guard Biruk Teshome’s 10 points and senior forward Dustin Green’s five rebounds to go with five assists.
While the season is still only two weeks and two games old, Capannola is encouraged by what he’s seeing so far from his squad.
“I’m very happy with a district win on the road, and that we overcame some adversity to do it,” Capannola said. “We should continue to improve as we become more familiar with each other in real game settings.”
The Mustangs play another game on the road against Mount Vernon High School before hosting John Paul the Great Catholic High School on Dec. 13.