Kicking off the first full week of their season George Mason High School’s boys basketball team defeated local Trinity School at Meadow View, 85-46, on Tuesday following two losses at the Raider Tip-Off tournament at J.E.B. Stuart (Justice) High School last week.
A reimagined defensive mindset and a bevy of young players are some of the new additions to this year’s team, but the mainstays of juniors Max Ashton and Hollman Smith along with senior Anish Chatterjee are still the driving force of the Mustangs’ on-court identity. Fittingly enough, it was Chatterjee who got Mason going with his shooting with a hot start from long range, who returned to the team invigorated after academic troubles prevented him from finishing last season.
“I have a little unfinished business from last year,” Chatterjee said. “I owe everyone at the school, coach [Chris] Cappanola and my parents for this chance.”
Mason didn’t waste anytime getting a jump on Trinity. A quick 6-0 lead two minutes into the game grew to 17-4 advantage after back to back three-pointers from Chatterjee found the net. By the end of the first quarter the Mustangs had built a sizeable cushion up 26-6 after senior guard David Miller drained a trey himself.
In the second quarter Mason kept pacing Trinity, who started to settle into their offense. Trinity trailed 34-12 roughly halfway through the quarter, though was able to start closing the gap on the Mustangs by getting to the line and working the paint. Mason had impressive plays of their own, such as a kick out from junior guard Connor Fletchall to twin brother Brendan Fletchall for a corner three and a Smith assist on an Ashton two-pointer to hold the Mustang lead. A few late points had Trinity slightly better off going into halftime at 39-20.
However, once Mason’s starters took the floor for the third quarter it was hard to fathom Trinity mounting a comeback. Smith and Chatterjee both jumped passing lanes and went coast-to-coast for lay-ups, with Chatterjee turning his drive into a three-point play at the free throw line. A 66-35 lead to end the third paved the way for reserves to play the final period, with a gaping margins of the final score a strong tell the Mustangs were taking their new defensive direction seriously.
“I liked the ball pressure tonight. A little more confident going against a team our level and we disrupted them pretty good,” head coach Chris Capannola said. “Other than their one forward, we took most of their other players out of the game.”
That same defensive strategy couldn’t be deployed during last week’s Raider Tip-Off tournament at Stuart. Going against Chantilly High School on Nov. 30 and Annandale High School Dec. 2, the Mustangs struggled to stay within arm’s reach after a quarter and a half of play. To Capannola, both team’s had size and speed that Mason couldn’t match. A bevy of turnovers and an overall shooting percentage of 35 percent resulted in the Mustangs getting drubbed against both opponents as they fell to Chantilly, 69-44, and Annandale, 75-46.
Mason played Yorktown High School last night, but results weren’t available by press time. They host Broad Run High School at home this Friday.