by Matt Delaney
George Mason’s varsity girls basketball team maintained their winning ways in Conference 35 as they bested Central High School 30-29 on Dec. 16 and Warren County High School 52-32 on Dec. 19, making it four straight victories after a 1-2 start.
Mason and Central engaged in a low-scoring defensive match that came down to the wire. Minus their usual backcourt playmakers in Nicole Bloomgarden and Sarah Lubnow – who was ejected early on due to a flagrant foul – the Mustangs turned to a deep bench to defeat the visiting Falcons. It required everything from rotation to get the job done, but a steady grind to the finish earned them their third of four straight wins.
“It was the true essence of a team victory,” head coach Michael Gilroy wrote. “We are definitely finding ways to win. We have girls who may not be on the other teams’ scouting report [but] show up and do great things. Our team knows we are going to be in 32 minute battles most nights [and] we’re prepared for that.”
A 14-10 halftime lead in Mason’s favor quickly evaporated when Central outscored the Mustangs 13-7 in the third quarter to go up 23-21. Central built a seemingly insurmountable seven-point lead in the fourth, but a three-ball and three-point play from senior forward Kenya Bliss put Mason right back in the mix. Strong showings from guards junior Victoria Rund and sophomore Maddie LaCroix limited Central’s offense while facilitating key contributions from other teammates to help the Mustangs edge out a victory.
Rund finished the game with five points, nine rebounds and four steals. Bliss led Mason’s scorers with six off the bench while Dod and LaCroix both put up four points themselves.
Against Warren County, Mason led wire-to-wire as they carried a lead into halftime that they never relinquished. Bloomgarden came off the bench for 23 points and the Mustangs’ two starting forwards, juniors Kaylee Hirsch and Jenna Short, both had impressive performances by posting 8 points each.
“We are still very far from where we need to be but we’ve quietly won four in a row and are in a good place right now,” Gilroy continued. “Our depth is proving to be our biggest asset; there isn’t much drop off.”
Mason will test their depth in the Oakton Holiday Classic next week at Oakton High School.