One bad quarter spelled the end for the George Mason High School’s varsity girls basketball team as they fell to Martinsville High School 61-45 in the Virginia 2A State quarterfinals at James Madison University today.
Coming out of the half all square at 25, Mason (23-6) needed to continue controlling the game’s pace if they wanted a chance at exceeding their goal of a state tournament berth. Instead, Martinsville generated looks and buckets at will in the third quarter while the Mustangs struggled to stay within reach.
The Bulldogs’ tallied 16 points to Mason’s five and built a comfortable margin 41-30 for second-seeded Martinsville heading into the final frame. Prior to the third quarter, neither team had led by more than five points when the Mustangs held a 16-11 advantage midway through the first quarter. Martinsville attained their largest lead of the game when two free throws put them up 50-33 with 3:48 to play in the game.
Mason got hot from beyond the arc as senior guard Sarah Lubnow and junior guards Victoria Rund and Linnea Skotte all sank shots from downtown. The short spurt brought the Mustangs within 10 at 52-42 with roughly two and half minutes remaining. However it was too little, too late for the Falls Church locals. Both teams traded fouls and free throws until the horn sounded.
A lopsided second-half was a far cry from Mason’s efficient first half. The Mustangs were fighting an uphill battle against the longer and quicker Bulldogs, but managed to keep Martinsville uncomfortable in their sweet spot inside the paint.
Frequent trips to the free throw line, including a four-shot trip for Rund due to a Martinsville technical foul, buoyed Mason’s otherwise unremarkable offense. Decelerating the game’s speed allowed the Mustangs to hold a lead for a whopping eight minutes throughout the first and second quarters. On the flip side, it prolonged Martinsville’s shooting funk as they tried and failed to find their stride by upping the tempo.
Still, the cracks that led to the second half’s breakage were evident in the first. Mason struggled to hit shots from the field, were outrebounded on both ends of the court and committed too many unforced turnovers, despite the tie score at half. Once Martinsville found their groove on offense and came up with second and sometimes third chances to hit their shot in the second half, Mason couldn’t find an answer.