Mustangs Keep Rolling, Improve to 4-1 After 2 Weeks

SENIOR GUARD Elizabeth Dodge’s development is seen as the final piece of the puzzle to Mason’s strong backcourt. Once she becomes more comfortable in her role and gels with junior guard Maddie Lacroix, the Mustangs will have four potent guards in their rotation. (Photo: Carol Sly)

Continuing their season’s month-long march through out-of-conference (and out-of-classification) opponents is George Mason High School’s girls basketball team, who soundly defeated Broad Run High School 58-34 last Friday.

The Dec. 8 win over Broad Run was another example of Mason’s (4-1) ability to win no matter who’s on the court. A backcourt that blossomed into a three-headed monster last year with seniors Nicole Bloomgarden and Victoria Rund and junior Maddie Lacroix looks to add a fourth member with senior guard Elizabeth Dodge getting a bump in minutes in her third year on varsity. And with senior forward Kaylee Hirsch’s early foul trouble forcing sophomore forward Daria Douglas off the bench, the first-year varsity player handled it like an upperclassman — though one good showing isn’t enough to convince Mason head coach Michael Gilroy she’s “arrived.”

“[Douglas] has the ability to be a big difference maker for us this season, she can guard all five positions,” Gilroy said. “But she has to figure out that she needs to come to work every day and have a bounce in her step at practice, the rest will take care of itself.”

The Mustangs grabbed an early lead against the Spartans and never looked back. A 14-3 advantage after the first quarter made way for a 30-12 lead by halftime. Coming out after the break, Mason added 14 more points in their favor while keeping Broad Run in the single digits for the third consecutive quarter and building up a 44-17 margin. The Spartans were able to operate their offense efficiently in the fourth quarter, but the game was out of reach.

Defense has been the most decisive key for the Mustangs’ early success. In all four of their wins, Mason held their opponents to single digit scoring totals for three quarters.

However, the depth and diversity at the guard position has also been a plus for them. Bloomgarden’s prevalence to attack the rim and draw fouls goes well with Rund’s strength defending her man, snagging rebounds and setting up scorers on offense. It’s why Gilroy is so intent on developing Dodge to compliment Lacroix, so he can have two backcourt pairs that can be rotated in and out without missing a beat.

Even with the group’s prowess, they still struggle against presses and traps that aim to log-jam ball handlers before they can set up the offense. Proving that the pressure doesn’t affect Mason is the next box to check.

“I need a few kids who want the ball in their hands, who can settle us down when need be,” Gilroy added. “I can’t teach a kid to want to have the ball in their hands in crunch time, that is built from within someone. [Bloomgarden] is my closest at the moment, she needs to improve and be a coach on the floor.”

Mason faced Bishop Ireton High School last night, but results weren’t available by press time. Next, Mason will host John Paul the Great Catholic High School on Friday before another home game versus Washington-Lee High School on Dec. 19.