Starting the new year strong, George Mason High School’s girls basketball team downed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, 36-33, and won their first Bull Run district match against Rappahannock County High School, 63-37.
The Mustangs (9-4) bounced back from their two game slump to end 2017 with two victories that summarize this team’s range of play: a lunch-pail-and-hard-hat kind of game against Jefferson followed by a blowout over a weaker conference opponent in Rappahannock. Getting a taste of the easy and difficult ways to win should keep Mason honest during a January stretch against district rivals.
“This is crunch time for the seniors, less than a month left in this season. All league play from here on out,” Mason head coach Michael Gilroy said. “Everyone needs to be fully engaged, whether it’s a game or practice, and ready to go for the duration of the season. If we can do that, I feel great about our chances going forward.”
The Jan. 3 contest against Jefferson was a slugfest. Neither team’s offenses clicked with the same synergy they normally do, so defenses were working double time to keep their respective heads above water. That was the chief objective for Mason, who was looking to cancel out Jefferson’s efficient pick and roll game that’s run through their talented point guard and forward.
The Mustangs applied the clamps successfully. A narrow 7-5 lead following the first quarter was built on heading into halftime up 16-12.
Both teams exploded (relatively speaking) on offense in the third quarter, with Mason’s 15 points just outpacing Jefferson’s 13, thanks in large part to senior guard Nicole Bloomgarden’s three consecutive three-pointers.
Behind at 31-25, Jefferson outscored the Mustangs in the final frame 8-5 but were unable to secure any kind of winning margin due to Mason’s stingy defense.
Bloomgarden led Mason’s scorers with 15 points while senior forward Jenna Short led the team with nine rebounds.
Against Rappahannock County last Friday, a shootout quickly turned into a blowout once Mason found its defensive form. Leading 18-13 after the first quarter, the Mustangs knocked the wind out of the Panthers with a 14-3 second quarter that had Mason up 32-16 by the half. The remainder of the game was a formality for the Mustangs as they furthered their lead to 49-26 by the third quarter until carrying the game to its final score.
Bloomgarden led the team again with 20 points while senior guard Elizabeth Dodge was close behind with 14 points, all scored in the second half.
Elevated play from Bloomgarden has been a boon for the Mustangs as her ball handling and scoring ability are some of the best on Mason’s team. However, lately it’s been her ability to control the court, not the just ball, that’s been the biggest help.
“Past two games, Bloomgarden has been locked in,” Gilroy continued. “She is having the type of games that we both envisioned prior to the season. It’s not the points that I care about, it’s being a pest on defensive, talking to her teammates and getting everyone involved and being ready to play, herself included.”
Mason hosted Strasburg High School last night, but results were not available by press time. Next up, the Mustangs will play Central High School this Friday at home.