As the season marches along, George Mason High School’s girls basketball team had another positive week, going 2-1 over three games with a 49-46 win over Washington-Lee High School on Tuesday and a 51-31 win over John Paul the Great Catholic High School on Dec. 15, preceded by a 50-32 loss to Bishop Ireton High School on Dec. 13.
The wins haven’t been pretty, but Mason (6-2) has been effective at making key situations swing in their favor to decide contests. Whether it’s been a timely defensive stop or a big bucket at a critical juncture, the Mustangs have shown a collective feel for the game that’s been honed as the core starters are in their third season together.
Against W-L, the maturation process was on full display. A 17-2 run to end the first half put Mason up 34-23 and appeared to set up a lead-padding stretch to start the third quarter. Instead, the Mustangs put up a clunker and were outscored 11-5, with 60 percent of their points in the quarter coming on a midcourt, buzzer beating three from senior guard Victoria Rund.
“Our approach [coming out of the half] was the same, we just couldn’t buy a bucket,” Mason head coach Michael Gilroy said. “We got to the spots we wanted, we were working the high-low game, but we weren’t being aggressive by getting to the rim. We were settling for three foot jumpshots.”
Entering the fourth up 39-36, Mason and W-L’s offenses were reliant on converting their free throws to keep pace with one another. After one of the Generals players sank both her shots to put W-L within a possession at 46-43 at the 2:25 mark, madness ensued.
Rund drove the lane, only to be stripped in the paint and start a Generals break the other way. Junior guard Maddie Lacroix snatched the ball right back and set up senior guard Nicole Bloomgarden’s chance to seal the game. But Bloomgarden missed her layup, and then a three consecutive putback attempts by senior forward Kaylee Hirsch and sophomore forward Daria Douglas doinked off the backboard until the Generals secured the rebound, moved swiftly upcourt and drained a tying three-pointer.
Bloomgarden was then fouled and split a pair at the line to put the Mustangs ahead 47-46 with less than a minute remaining. On W-L’s go ahead possession, a Generals guard drove right for a short elbow shot but was denied by Douglas, who recovered the loose ball and passed to Lacroix, who was then fouled. Lacroix nailed both her free throws and Mason’s defense held strong on one last attempt to ensure the victory.
The drama of Tuesday’s game wasn’t matched by either of last week’s. Mason led John Paul the Great 27-16 at the half and 39-27 by the end of the third quarter, but a 12-2 final frame for the Mustangs put the kibosh on any comeback attempt for the Wolves. Facing Ireton, Mason was down 33-17 by halftime and failed to close the scoring gap in any meaningful way throughout the third and fourth quarter.
Mason won’t play again until Dec. 27 against Fairfax High School at a holiday tournament hosted by Fairfax.