by Matt Delaney
A five-game win streak is the George Mason varsity girls basketball team’s Christmas gift to themselves after handling C.D. Hylton 65-32 in their first game of Oakton High School’s Holiday tournament.
From the opening tip that sophomore forward Raquel Dodd batted to junior center Kaylee Hirsch who then immediately dished the ball to junior guard Nicole Bloomgarden to drive in for two, it was evident the Mustangs came to play. Mason went on to earn a wire-to-wire victory where they outscored the Bulldogs in every quarter and dominated all phases of the game.
“To beat a team that beat us last year, and beat them pretty convincingly, that’s gotta be a boost for us going [forward],” head coach Michael Gilroy said.
Whatever game plan Hylton came in with was ruined early on by the Mustangs. A constricting defense restricted the Bulldogs from roaming the paint without turning the ball over, while Mason’s offense left Hylton on their heels and gave them openings from long range and up close.
After a tight first quarter where Mason led 19-11, an explosive second quarter put the Mustangs firmly ahead, scoring 24 points while limiting the Bulldogs to just nine, giving the Little City’s own a 43-20 halftime advantage. Hylton continued their flat play in the second half as the Mustangs scored 22 points in the third and fourth quarter compared to the Bulldogs’ twelve.
Synergy has been the theme of Mason’s five game win streak and the win over Hylton was another poignant example of the cohesion the Mustangs have developed during that stretch.
“This is two years now I’ve had with the same team,” Gilroy added. “They’re all getting more familiar each other. They all know where people are and their spots and where they’re good at. It’s still a work in progress, but we definitely have more cohesiveness.”
Still, even as they’ve begun to heat up, Mason is keeping their excitement about the streak quiet.
“We don’t celebrate too much after wins, it’s kind of a weird group,” Gilroy said with a chuckle. “But I think they’re a pretty confident and they know what they need to do each night.”
Mason finished out the tournament against Loudoun County High School and South Lakes High School. The Mustangs lost both games, dropping the contest against Loudoun County 64-47 and losing to South Lakes by a 45-32 margin.