Victory was tasted at last by George Mason High School’s girls basketball team, who ended its season-long skid by defeating John Paul the Great Catholic High School 46-42 Tuesday night.
The Mustangs (1-4) had their work cut out for them entering the final frame. With Mason trailing the visiting Wolves, 32-29, John Paul the Great knocked down a long jumper and two free throws to push its lead to 36-29 with seven minutes to go in the game. Mason had been in a slow-moving freefall over the previous two quarters, outscored 24-15 in 15 minutes of gameplay after holding a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. The seven-point deficit seemed to signal the vanishing hope of the season’s first win, until the Mustangs wrangled together some gumption and willed their way to a win.
“It’s a big monkey off our back. The girls have been coming in everyday and giving their all,” Mason head coach Chris Carrico said. “It’s good to see us have a little bit of success. Obviously it didn’t go perfectly, but it’s really nice to come out on the winning side of things.”
What had been an unkind rim all night (for both teams) finally started to ease up on Mason with five minutes to play. Freshman forward Megan Tremblay banked a shot in near the basket before senior guard Maddie Lacroix stepped inside the 3-point line for a long deuce to bring the Mustangs within three at 36-33.
With 3:18 to play junior forward Julia Rosenberger knocked down a corner three to put Mason just behind at 37-36. Lacroix followed Rosenberger’s three-ball with one of her own that was nicely set up by freshman guard Zoraida Icabalceta’s kickout to give Mason its first lead since the midway through the second quarter.
John Paul the Great hit a two right back to tie up the score again with 1:57 remaining. Icabalceta made a pair at the line to push Mason back up on the ensuing possession, and Lacroix’s missed bunny to seal the game was atoned for when she sank both her free throws to go up 43-39. A Wolves three with 20 seconds to go brought them close, but trips to the line by Icabalceta and Rosenberger netted three points for the Mustangs and solidified the final result.
The game was more melee than masterpiece throughout, mainly due both teams’ inability to corale rebounds. Carrico assured that it was a regular focus of practice that included getting guards to crash the boards as well as directing the teams’ bigs in junior forwards Emma Rollins and Agnes Jagerskog to be stronger catching balls off the glass, so improvement should be en route.
One poor quarter spelled doom for the Mustangs against Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology on Dec. 6. Mason was down 23-15 by halftime, but an 11-2 third quarter split that favored the Colonials all but dampened any hopes of the Mustangs achieving their first win of the season five days before they actually did.
.The Mustangs will play Manassas Park High School on the road tomorrow before hosting Broad Run High School on Dec. 18.