Falcons’ rally falls short against Mustangs

WOODSTOCK– Central got an early season look at where it’s at as a team on Wednesday night.

The Falcons fought back late in the game but came up short against district and conference rival George Mason. The Mustangs held on for a 52-44 girls basketball victory.

“I’m happy with the win. Any road win is a good win,” George Mason coach Michael Gilroy said. “Especially with a team that was undefeated at their place, with a good crowd. …I knew they were a tough team.”

The Falcons trailed 44-34 with 3:49 left in the game. Central coach Bryan Scott decided to go back to using a full-court press and it worked like a charm.

Central went on an 8-1 run and created numerous turnovers. Central’s Brooke Sager and Ayanna Strother each scored three points in the run, and Bailey Gale came off the bench and gave the team a spark with her defense.

“She stepped up when her number was called tonight,” Scott said of Gale. “She stepped up and played great defense tonight.”

Trailing 45-42, the Falcons had a chance to cut into the lead even more, but Tamra Scott, who had a career-high 21 rebounds, had a shot inside go in and out with less than two minutes left.

“I called a timeout and set up a special play for Tamra,” Bryan Scott said. “We got a perfect look. It went in and kind of rolled back out. It just didn’t fall for her. I’m still proud of the girls.”

The Mustangs (4-1) were finally able to get the ball up the floor and a free throw by Katherine Hirsch and a layup by Victoria Rund stretched the lead to 48-42 with 51 seconds left.

George Mason was able to seal the game with a few more free throws down the stretch.

Central (5-1) made only 14 of 32 free-throw attempts.

“The key tonight was us not hitting our free throws, especially down the stretch.”

The Falcons dominated inside throughout the game, especially in the first half. Tamra Scott and Meredith Phillips combined for 23 of Central’s 26 first-half points as the Falcons led 26-25.

Gilroy said he made some adjustments that worked in the second half.

“At halftime we talked about how we were going to front the post, and then have backside help and have good guard pressure,” Gilroy said. “…They still got it in there (to the posts), but I thought we made the shot a little more difficult.”

The Mustangs out-scored Central 14-8 in the third period to take control of the game.

George Mason was led by Hirsch with 16 points. Nicole Bloomgarden and Racquel Dod had 12 points each.

Central was led by Tamra Scott with 15 points and Phillips with 11 points and five rebounds.

Bryan Scott said it was good for his game to play against a team like the Mustangs, and they will have another challenge on Friday at Clarke County.

“George Mason’s always tough. This kind of gauges where we’re at, and what we need to do better to beat those type teams,” Bryan Scott said. “We got to bounce back tomorrow and have a good day of practice, and go get Clarke on Friday.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com