A short slump was answered with a game-defining run as George Mason High School’s girls basketball team beat Poquoson High School 51-42 last night in the Class 2 state quarterfinal down in Williamsburg.
Mason (22-6) and Poquoson were tit-for-tat throughout the first half as neither team led by more than a possession until the Bull Islanders put together a 6-0 stretch that had them up 35-29 with a few minutes remaining in the third quarter. Then the Mustangs flipped the script.
Starting with senior forward Kaylee Hirsch’s putback to bring them within four, Mason began a 13-0 run that went from the 1:17 mark in the third quarter to the 2:48 mark in the fourth. Along the way, the Mustangs All-Region first team players Hirsch and fellow senior Nicole Bloomgarden took command.
Hirsch finished a layup and knocked down a pair at the line to tie the score at 35 and Bloomgarden took consecutive drives to the rack, one of which was a three-point play, to nudge Mason ahead 40-35. Sophomore forward Daria Douglas fed Hirsch from the high post for another bucket and put Poquoson in permanent panic mode with just over three minutes left.
“We discussed before the game that every second, every minute and every moment we were going to play for the team,” Hirsch said, who’s 19 points along with Bloomgarden’s 13 helped clinch the win. “We set the bar high and performed the way we wanted to tonight.”
Four quick points brought Poquoson within a bucket to tie at 42-39. But the Bull Islanders’ foul trouble caught up with them as junior guard Maddie Lacroix and Bloomgarden pushed the Mustangs ahead 44-39 after two trips to the line. With 40 seconds left to play, Poquoson was called for a five second violation on an inbound pass. Their head coach expressed her displeasure with the call to the referees and was promptly given a technical foul, allowing Lacroix to essentially ice the game with a pair of free throws to put Mason up 47-39.
The other side of the decisive run was the Mustangs defense. Entering the fourth, Mason head coach Michael Gilroy optioned to a 2-3 zone to stifle Poquoson’s dynamic point guard and top playmaker. The audible worked as Mason bottled up repeated dribble drives and closed off the passing lanes the Bull Islanders’ star player made the Mustangs pay for in the first three quarters.
Mason gets exactly what they want as a rematch with Buffalo Gap High School – the Region 2B champions who defeated the Mustangs, 45-42, to earn that title on Feb. 24 – is slated for March 6 at Stuarts Draft High School in Staunton.