Mustangs Go 2-1 in Packed Second Week of Season

TEAM DEFENSE has been a strong suit for Mason so far this year, especially against Dominion on Nov. 29 where the Mustangs limited the Titans to 17 points through three quarters (Photo: Carol Sly)

Entering the second week of their season, George Mason High School’s girls basketball team suffered their first loss of the year while adding two more wins with a 52-43 defeat against The Potomac School on Dec. 5 sandwiched between victories against Dominion High School, 56-35, on Nov. 29 and Yorktown High School, 44-29, on Dec. 6.

Standing at 3-1 after four games is a prized position for any team. Mason is no exception…normally. For a team that intends on remaining as one of the top eight teams in Virginia’s 2A classification, head coach Michael Gilroy has been more shrewd in evaluating the Mustangs. It’s why he feels the spunk and competitiveness found in Mason’s 4-0 junior varsity basketball program deserves more praise at the moment than his own varsity squad.

“If anyone wants to see some fun hoops, come watch our JV team,” Gilroy said. “They are now 4-0 and play with great energy and enthusiasm. They are led by [eighth grader] Zoraida Icabalceta who is quickly becoming one of the best passing guards that I have seen. I’d rather they get a blurb than varsity.”

Whether deflecting attention away from the varsity team is a motivational ploy or just Gilroy’s natural frankness is unimportant. Bottom line is the Mustangs aren’t where their coach wants them, despite a 3-1 record.

Though Gilroy would have a hard time knocking the win over Dominion last week. A 21-7 lead after the first quarter allowed Mason to apply full-court pressure and build their advantage from there. Solid guard play from seniors Victoria Rund and Nicole Bloomgarden, along with junior Maddie Lacroix, allowed senior forward Kaylee Hirsch to control the paint and limit touches to the Titans strong interior players. By the start of the fourth quarter the Mustangs led by a winning margin of 43-17.

Against Potomac on Tuesday, it was a different story. A grind of a game that saw Mason up 13-9 after the first quarter and tied 23-all at the half transitioned to the third quarter where the Mustangs nudged ahead  41-36. Though in the fourth quarter the floor fell out from under Mason when the guards failed to assert themselves, allowing the offense to lose its sync in the process. As a result, the Mustangs only posted two points to Potomac’s 16-point finish en route to the team’s first loss.

“Guards need to realize that our advantage most games is inside with Kaylee,” Gilroy continued. She needs to touch the ball on every possession, whether it’s for her to score or to pass, but we have to play inside-out.”

Luckily for Mason, a home game against Yorktown on Wednesday gave them an opportunity to remove the bad taste left from the previous night’s game. The Mustangs took advantage of the chance and kept the Patriots in single digit scoring margins until the fourth quarter which Mason entered comfortably ahead at 32-19. Senior forward Jenna Short led all scorers with 16 points while Lacroix was close behind with 10.

The Mustangs are on the road for their next two games as they visit Broad Run High School tonight before traveling to Bishop Ireton High School on Dec. 13.