Another big week for George Mason High School’s varsity boys basketball team included two home victories against Conference 35 rivals Madison County High School, 51-47, and Strasburg High School, 61-46, as well as a 50-46 road loss to William Monroe.
Madison County stood atop Conference 35 with a 15-1 record, remaining unbeaten in the last month. A duel with Mason (13-6) from tip-to-horn that saw seven lead changes in the second half ensured they would leave Madison with their second loss of the season.
“First time I think we played 32 minutes all year. That’s how good we can be. [Madison’s] a damn good team,” Mason head coach Chris Capannola said. “We gimmicked them on defense, [so] they didn’t run their stuff because we didn’t let them. We limited our turnovers and made big shots when we had to. That’s the recipe for winning basketball games.”
The Mountaineers held a slim 35-34 lead entering the fourth quarter before junior guard Anish Chatterjee’s 3-pointer put Mason back ahead. Madison hit a three of their own to go up 40-39, but sophomore forward Hollman Smith’s baseline jumper got the Mustangs out in front until another Mountaineer three put Madison ahead 47-46.
With 90 seconds left, sophomore guard Max Ashton hit a short jumper to put Mason up for good. A tough defensive stand by the Mustangs negated three go-ahead buckets for Madison and allowed Mason to walk out with a win.
Against William Monroe, the Mustangs dug a hole they couldn’t get themselves out of. Trailing 27-21 at the half, the Dragons added 12 in the third to increase their lead to 39-32 by the fourth. Mason outplayed William Monroe in the final frame, but not enough to overcome the early deficit.
Mason controlled the game easily in its matchup with Strasburg. The Mustangs were ahead 10-7 after eight minutes, but the team kicked it into high gear and began to outpace the Rams. A 24-19 halftime lead was blown open in the third quarter as Mason outscored Strasburg’s 21-3 to make the fourth quarter a formality.
Now Mason sets its sights on the road ahead.
“There’s four games in seven days,” Capannola said about the remaining regular season. “I told the guys we gotta turn the knob to 10, and then we gotta rip the knob off. We can’t go back down to nine or eight, we need to peak when we get to the postseason.”
Mason began its final week of the regular season at home against Rappahannock County last night before they host Clarke County this Friday, Feb. 3.