Central set for third meeting with George Mason

Central's Bryan Davis floats to the basket as Strasburg's Garrett Jenkins defends from behind during third quarter action on Feb. 8 in Woodstock. The Falcons host George Mason tonight in the Region 2B tournament semifinals. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Central is peaking at just the right time.

Central’s boys basketball team hosts Bull Run District rival George Mason in the Region 2B semifinals at 7 p.m. tonight. The winner advances to the Class 2 state tournament next week.

Central (22-3) won 15 games in a row after starting the season off with a loss. The Falcons then went through a tough three-game stretch where they lost two out of three games, but have since won six in a row.

“We started out, we got on that nice winning streak and then we went through a little lull,” Central boys basketball coach Jeff Whitte said “But now since the Strasburg game (on Feb. 8), we’ve been playing together again. And so I think right now we’re just playing our best. So hopefully we can continue it.”

One key to the Falcons’ success over the last six games has been the play of point guard Jared Patton.

The junior had been playing well all season, but has picked up his scoring over the last few games. Patton had 23 points and five assists in Central’s 84-65 victory over Wilson Memorial on Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals.

“Since probably the Strasburg game, the last regular season game, he’s been playing extremely well,” Whittle said of Patton. “He’s been picking and choosing when to distribute the ball and when to score. He’s feeling it from the perimeter, and he’s quick. He’s a good on-ball defender. So he’s one of those guys, he never really gets tired. He has a lot of energy. So we rely on him a lot.”

Patton said he’s playing with confidence and just feeling good on the court.

“I feel like I guess I’m getting kind of loose now, and feeding off of everyone else,” Patton said. “And I’m just playing ball, doing whatever I can to help the team scoring or not scoring.”

One of the keys for Central all season has been their balanced offensive attack. The Falcons have six players averaging at least 8 points per game. Central is averaging 69.4 points per game.

In Tuesday’s victory the Falcons had five players in double figures.

The Falcons will have their hands full with George Mason (15-9). Central beat George Mason twice this season. The Falcons beat the Mustangs, 66-62, at home on Jan. 11 and then beat them again, 49-48, on Jan. 31.

Central senior Bryan Davis said that he expects George Mason to play really well tonight.

“Mason is going to come out hard (tonight), because we beat them twice so far,” Davis said. “They’re coming back for everything. So they’re not going to come out and play easy on us. So we’re going to have come out and match their in intensity like we did. And hopefully we can come out victorious.”

Both games came down to the wire and Whittle said he expects more of the same tonight. Whittle said he knows George Mason coach Chris Capannola will have a good game plan against for the Falcons.

“I think we have more depth than George Mason,” Whittle said “We just have to be ready. Knowing (Capannola) he’s going to have something for us. He might play a zone defense. He might play a gimmick defense. So we’ve got to be able to lock into our defense. And hopefully if we play like we’re capable of, playing like we played the last four or five games, it will give us a shot to win.”

The Falcons are aiming for their first state berth since 1999.

Davis said it would be a special feeling if the Falcons can pull it off, and it would be even more special for the group of seniors.

“It’s very big, very big for us, for the school, the community,” Davis said. “It would be amazing. I dream of going to states. As a senior, it’s even better if we do make it. So we just got to cherish these moments as seniors.”