Falcons trampled by Mustangs
BERRYVILLE – Central simply had no answer for George Mason’s post players in Tuesday night’s Bull Run District girls basketball tournament semifinal game at Clarke County High School.
The Mustangs’ senior duo of forwards Katherine Goodwin and Micaela Albright combined to score 48 points as second-seeded George Mason rolled through the No. 3 Falcons, 66-49, to advance to Thursday’s championship game against top-seeded Clarke County.
“It’s hard to simulate a lot of that stuff sometimes in practice … but we tell them, we always want to sit baseline, get a hand up on the outside. They just have to do it,” Falcons head coach Mallory Skarupa said. “They have to want to do it. Defense is effort. Defense sucks. No one wants to play it but you can’t get around it. You have to play defense, and we didn’t.”
Central (17-7) matched the Mustangs point for point early, as both teams connected on buckets in the paint on their first three possessions. George Mason (17-5) took a 9-6 lead following a traditional three-point play by Goodwin, and the Mustangs closed the first period with an 18-9 run over the final six minutes of the frame to take a 24-15 lead into the second period.
Goodwin scored 12 of her game-high 29 points in the first period and made her first seven shot attempts in the game, while the 6-foot Albright added eight points in the opening quarter.
Albright finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Goodwin added 10 boards.
“The big difference was our post players,” Mustangs coach LaBryan Thomas said. “They did a great job today posting up and getting baskets. … Post play definitely carried us today.
“Last time we played them we kind of figured it out that they couldn’t handle our post players. But they do a great job of trying to defend the post players, but [Goodwin and Albright] had their way today.”
Central’s presence inside the paint was further hampered on Tuesday night as sophomore forward Tamra Scott, the Falcons’ only “true” post player according to Skarupa, missed large chunks of time throughout the game with foul trouble.
“Obviously that threw us off a little bit, but Bree Pifer stepped in there for us and held down the fort,” Skarupa said. “I was really proud of her for that. We actually, I think, played a little bit better post defense with her in there moving around.”
The Falcons rallied to cut George Mason’s lead to 24-20 early in the second period following five straight points by freshman Ayanna Strother, but the Mustangs answered with a 9-2 run that included seven straight points from Goodwin.
Central pulled within 33-26 late in the first half after a fast-break bucket by Erika Thorpe off Brooklyn Pumphrey’s steal, and the Mustangs countered with a floater by Kenya Bliss in the waning seconds to take a 35-26 lead into halftime.
“We kind of went back and forth for a little bit and I thought maybe if we could break that seven-, eight-point barrier we could make a run,” Skarupa said. “We just couldn’t make that key stop. That’s what it comes down to.”
George Mason, which stretched its win streak to nine straight with Tuesday’s victory, blew the game open in the second half. The Mustangs outscored Central 18-11 in the third period to take a 53-37 lead into the fourth, and George Mason led by as much as 19 points in the final period.
George Mason shot 45.6 percent (26 for 57) from the field, while Central made 21 of 53 (39.6 percent) shots.
Scott finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for the Falcons, while Cianne Fields added 13 points. Strother had eight points and Pumphrey finished with four points and eight rebounds for Central, which returns to action next Monday in the Conference 28 tournament.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com