Surge lifts Mustangs over Falcons

George Mason's D'Montae Noble fouls Central's Varsey Bright off this fast break play during second quarter action on Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – George Mason boys basketball coach Chris Capannola was not pleased with his team’s performance in the first half against Central. After a halftime talk with his players they responded in the second half.

The Mustangs broke open a close game in the second half en route to a 75-54 Bull Run District victory over the Falcons on Wednesday night. The win moved the Mustangs to 16-0 on the season.

“To be honest, I got into them a little bit at halftime,” Capannola said. “Some of the guys didn’t like it, sort of took it personal. I told them it’s not personal, just we need to be better. ‘You need to make your layups. Need to stop floating around a little bit, and let’s get back to what we do.’ … We had something to prove to ourselves. I think we did that.”

Central got off to a slow start and fell behind 11-2 to start the contest. The Falcons responded with an 8-0 run. Central’s Luke Estep scored five points during the spurt, and Kobi Hoover hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 11-10 with 48 seconds left in the opening period.

George Mason’s Robert Tartt scored to end the first period. Central’s Varsey Bright made two free throws to start the second period and trim the lead to 13-12, but the Mustangs went on a big run.

Central's James Pugh floats around George Mason's Josh Allen for a score during second quarter action on Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

George Mason used an 18-2 run to take a 31-14 advantage with 3:44 left in the first half.

Central (9-6, 5-3 Bull Run) came right back with a 12-4 to close out the half. Hank Hoover had six points during the spurt, and Kobi Hoover hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to cut the lead to 35-26 at the half.

“They started the game on a run. Then went on another one. We kind of withstood that one and made it a game there going into the second half,” Central coach Brandon Shields said. “I thought we closed out the second quarter pretty well. They just made a lot more plays than we did. That’s a good team, and we just gave them too many opportunities to capitalize at inopportune times for us.”

Central scored first in the third period on a layup by Josh Orndorff, but the Mustangs went on a 17-7 run to build a 52-35 lead with 2:32 left in the third period.

The Falcons had 22 turnovers in the game, which many times led to easy baskets for the Mustangs.

Central's Luke Estep drives to the basket off a fast break while George Mason's Douglas Bossart looks on during first quarter action on Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I thought whenever we got out of the flow of our offense, and running things through and getting the best shot for our team, is when we got in trouble,” Shields said. “A bad shot or a forced shot or a quick shot is just as bad as a turnover and they got some runouts from them.”

Capannola said he was very pleased with the Mustangs’ defense, which he said he thought forced Central to go a little bit faster than it wanted to.

The Mustangs had 10 different players score, and their depth is a big reason why they are undefeated this season.

“We’re going eleven deep. When your second five comes in and there’s no noticeable drop that’s hard to deal with. Usually if you have seven really good players you’re doing well,” Capannola said. “When they come in they do their job, and it’s helped us. That’s why we haven’t lost. It’s really the bench guys that have kept things rolling when you go to the bench.”

Tartt led the Mustangs with 22 points, while Josh Allen added 11.

George Mason's Elliot Mercado goes up under the basket as Central's Kobi Hoover, left, Joshua Orndorff, center, and Luke Estep defend during second quarter action on Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Hank Hoover led the Falcons with 15 points, and Estep had 12.

Shields said Hoover continues to be a real bright spot off the bench for the Falcons.

“Hank is just getting better every single night,” Shields said. “He’s an extremely coachable kid, does everything we ask of him. He goes full speed all the time, and good things happen when you play hard all the time. He never chooses when to play hard, he just does all the time. And that’s why he’s getting more minutes, and that’s why he is doing positive things for us.”

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