George Mason High School’s varsity girls basketball team tackled another slate of big games last week, defeating William Monroe High School 48-44 last Thursday, Jan. 26, and Rappahannock County, 82-44, on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
It took Mason (13-4) all 32 minutes to defeat William Monroe. A seesawing game found the teams tied at 39 after a 17-5 stretch from the Dragons put them back in the running with five minutes to play. Junior forward Jenna Short hooked up with cutting senior forward Kenya Bliss to briefly give Mason a lead, but the Dragons scored on two consecutive possessions to give William Monroe a 43-41 advantage.
William Monroe’s 2-3 zone halted Mason’s offense as the clock wound under two minutes, forcing Bliss to heave a three-ball. The shot banked off the glass and into the hoop, prompting head coach Michael Gilroy to turn toward the ecstatic home crowd and flash an astonished grin.
“I thought for sure it was going to be a brick so I made a really bad face,” Bliss said. “When it went in my heart sunk I was so happy.”
A free throw from the Dragons tied things up again before a missed Mustang three. Junior forward Kaylee Hirsch followed with a rebound and putback layup to give Mason the lead for good. The decisive field goal appeared like a standard reaction, but it highlighted a key part of Gilroy’s game plan.
“That’s all we talked about — rebounding,” Gilroy said. “And it had to be a collective effort amongst guards, too. Jenna and Kaylee are always down there, [but] we needed some extra people to do some work and they did.”
The Mustangs trailed 18-17 at the half. In the third quarter Mason mounted a 14-2 run to go up 31-20. The lead grew to 34-22 after junior guard Linnea Skotte located fellow junior guard Elizabeth Dodge outside the arc for an open 3-pointer. William Monroe responded with their game-tying run that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth.
Mason easily handled Rappahannock County in their second of two meetings to sweep the season series. The Mustangs scored double digits in each quarter, highlighted by 23-point and 26-point second and third quarters, respectively.
The Mustangs get set for their final week of the regular season with a road game against Clarke County tonight, Feb. 2, before hosting Madison County next Tuesday.