An upsetting 55-27 loss to Yorktown High School last Wednesday lit a fire under George Mason High School’s boys basketball team. It worked as motivation for their strongest win of the season so far with a 57-54 victory over Broad Run High School two days later, but that feat was dampened with a 78-48 loss to Potomac Falls High School on Tuesday.
Last Friday’s game against Broad Run was a tale of two wildly different halves.
After a clunker of a first half that saw both teams put up only 37 total points, the floodgates opened during the second half where Mason (2-4) and Broad Run doubled their output and combined for 74 points. Most of the offensive explosion came in the fourth quarter where the Mustangs were outscored 26-20 and clung to a slimming lead due to foul calls and bad turnovers down the stretch.
“They trapped at just the right times. [Junior guard] Max [Ashton] tends to spin, and when you spin against the trap you can’t see the other guy coming,” head coach Chris Capannola said. “[But] they only went ahead once in the last minute, so we calmed down just enough.”
The Mustangs led 44-35 with 4:51 remaining to play after senior guard Anish Chatterjee drained a three. Broad Run answered right back with a three-pointer of their own and started a two-minute run where Mason turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions that translated into eight straight points and a 46-44 advantage for the Spartans.
Another Chatterjee trey and a fulfilling trip to the free throw line for Ashton put the Mustangs up by three, but Broad Run countered with four points to take a narrow 51-50 lead with 47 seconds remaining. However, on Mason’s following possession a common foul and a technical foul awarded Ashton four free throws, of which he made three. Ashton turned the ball over with under 10 seconds to play and set up Broad Run’s chance to tie the game at 55 from the free throw line, but their shooter split the pair and assured the Spartans’ defeat.
Capannola confessed that the Mustangs “snuck out” with the win, especially in light of the parade of foul calls that prolonged the game, though he hopes this will finally steady the ups and downs of the early season.
“I always tell the kids that the basketball season’s a ladder,” Capannola continued. “You climb up a rung, the rung breaks off and you can’t go back down, and if you do, you go all the way back down. I think we climbed a couple of rungs today by getting a lot of confidence against a pretty good team.”
Any hope that Mason would play spoiler on the road against Potomac Falls was gradually quelled as the contest wore on. The Mustangs were down 21-12 after the first quarter and were able to keep it under 10 going into halftime down 37-28. By the third quarter the Panthers began blowing the game open and went into the fourth quarter up 55-39. Mason was outscored 23-9 in the final frame and secured the win for Potomac Falls.
The Mustangs will host Loudoun County High School tonight before traveling to Arlington to play Washington-Lee High School next Tuesday, Dec. 19.