Late Surge Not Enough for Mustangs to Overcome Early Deficit

By Caitlin Butler

SOPHOMORE GUARD Zoraida Icabalceta was a big part of the offense against Robert E. Lee High School, but she alone couldn’t get Mason on the winning side. (Photo: Carol Sly)

George Mason High School’s girls basketball team took another loss versus the visiting Robert E. Lee Lancers, falling 47-44 last Thursday.

The Mustangs came up short by three points after a sleepy second and third quarter put them in the deep hole. By the time Mason picked up steam again in the fourth quarter, they ran out of time before the team could affect the game’s final outcome.

“I think we just didn’t come out with the intensity that we needed. We fumbled on a few of the marks especially defensively. We got it together in the last quarter, but then it was too late,” said sophomore guard Zoraida Icabalceta.

The fourth quarter started with a Lee possession that resulted in two successful foul shots to increase their lead to 38-30. The Lancers’ aggressive full court press ended up fouling senior forward Emma Rollins under the basket, who split her trip to the free throw line. Mason would go on to outscore Lee 13-9 in closing minutes of the game, with Icabalceta’s late three pointer putting the Mustangs within three at 47-44. However, the clock struck midnight for Mason, letting the visiting Lancers walk out of The Pit with the win.

Lee looked as if it was going to dominate the match early on. The Lancers nailed down the first seven points of the evening against an unresponsive Mustangs defense. But Mason found its rhythm when a Rollins bucket got things going offensively. Following Rollins’ lead was her teammate in sophomore guard Bella Paradiso who immediately kept the pace with a swift three point basket, putting the Mustangs down two at 7-5. Both teams traded scores with Mason taking a slight edge into the second quarter at 17-15.

The second quarter was a different story for the leading Mustangs.

Mason scored a total of five points for the entirety of the second quarter while Lee Lancers tacked on a total of 13. Icabalceta served as the offensive engine by contributing three of those five points in the second quarter due to a successful long range shot. But the Mustangs’ sloppy defense resulted in a Lancers lead for the second quarter with a score of 28-22.

In the third quarter the Mustangs defense bounced back to limit the Lancers to only eight points; Mason, however, merely matched the visitors with eight points as well, and failed to make a dent in Lee’s solid 36-30 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Mustangs hope to use this loss as a learning experience for the rest of the season to improve upon their weak points ahead of the Northwestern District schedule that awaits them following the conclusion of its holiday tournament over the break.

“[Lee] was a good match for us, going into the tournament it will be the same kind of playing level,” said Icabalceta, who added that the focus will be one “high intensity and collecting ourselves,” throughout the remainder of the season.

Mason will compete in the Joe Cascio Holiday Classic at Falls Church High School starting today. The Mustangs will resume league play against Skyline High School on Jan. 7.