George Mason High School’s varsity girls basketball team opened the new year with two resounding wins over Conference 35 opponents, taking down Rappahannock County High School, 88-25, and William Monroe High School, 50-38.
Mason had Rappahannock’s number for much of the contest, but that dominance looked in doubt early on in their Jan. 6. matchup. A failure to score consistently put the Mustangs at risk of an upset.
“What looked like the worst opening three minutes of any game we’ve played this year [with] miss after miss, quickly made a 360 and turned into our best,” Mason head coach Michael Gilroy said.
Sparked by aggressive defense from junior guard Victoria Rund and senior guard Sarah Lubnow, Mason took hold of the game when the two forced turnovers to generate run-outs on the other end. Rappahannock County was caught in a vicious cycle as a growing deficit caused the team to take more chances on the offensive end, paving the way for more Mustang steals and transition buckets.
A 23-4 Mason lead by the end of the first quarter ballooned to 50-18 by halftime. The Mustangs then outscored the Panthers 38-7 in the second half to clinch the win.
Guard Elizabeth Dodge led all scorers with 19, while fellow guards Nicole Bloomgarden (16 points), Linnea Skotte (10) and Kenya Bliss (10) all cracked double-digit points.
Squaring off against William Monroe on Jan. 4, Mason had its work cut out with Dragons’ playmaking sophomore forward, Samantha Brunelle.
Brunelle’s dominant play put William Monroe up 10 a minute before halftime, but a rolled ankle removed her from the game and opened up Mason’s chance for a comeback.
“I don’t know if we have played better defense in my two years as coach than in that final minute of the half,” Gilroy added. “Four steals later, we cut their lead to five by halftime.”
The Mustangs then outscored the Dragons 19-4 in the third quarter to take the lead, as three-point shooting from Rund and fruitful trips to the free throw line down the stretch kept Mason perfect in Conference play.
“We’re taking everything one game at a time,” Gilroy said. “But at the same time reminding ourselves where we want to be when the season’s over – [playing] at VCU.”
Mason is on the road against Madison County High School tonight. The team is in action next this Friday when it hosts Clarke County on Jan. 13.