Mason girls defeat Clarke, 41-30
Posted: January 18, 2013
BERRYVILLE — Throw out all the X’s and O’s and all the plays and strategies and basketball can be boiled down to one word — effort.
No matter how talented or prepared a team is, nothing can swing a game as much as one side giving more than the other.
That was the case Thursday night where the Clarke County girls’ basketball team simply could not match the intensity of visiting George Mason on either end of the court in a 41-30 Bull Run District loss.
“A lot of credit goes to [George Mason], they really did a nice job, particularly of attacking the glass in the second half,” said Clarke County girls’ basketball coach Tim Lawrence. “They went after the loose balls a lot harder than we did and I think they just played harder than we did. And that’s a tribute to them.”
Coming into the night the Eagles (12-4, 6-3 Bull Run) were hoping to hand the Mustangs their first district loss of the season after coming up just short in a 49-46 loss on the road back on Dec. 14.
But where Clarke County was the aggressor and played with the lead for most of that game, it was George Mason (12-5, 9-0) that took it to the host team right from the start Thursday.
Senior forward Stephanie Cheney got things started with a layup less than a minute into the game and quickly followed that up with a free throw.
A pair of free throws from Clarke County sophomore Anna Blue Catlett and a layup from classmate Sydney Chrane gave the Eagles a 4-3 lead, but it would be their only lead of the night.
The 6-foot-1 Cheney, who is headed to play basketball at Penn next year, scored six of her team’s next eight points to help the Mustangs build an 11-6 lead, thanks largely to the Eagles missing 11 of their 13 shots in the quarter.
The offensive woes continued in the second for Clarke County as, aside from sophomore Allison Hicks, the Eagles simply could not buy a basket.
While Hicks came off the bench to score eight points in the first half, the rest of the team managed just one field goal and four free throws over the first 16 minutes of play.
“I think we just needed to run more of our offense,” said Hicks, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds in the game. “Their defense did stop us a little bit, but we needed to get our offense going more.”
Clarke’s typically stingy defense was able to keep Cheney and the Mustangs within striking distance in the first half, but a 20-15 halftime lead ballooned to a 26-17 margin when Cheney scored six straight points in the third quarter.
A force on the glass and in transition, the girl Lawrence says is the best player in the Bull Run District scored off back-to-back inbounds plays under the Mustangs’ own basket before grabbing a rebound and putting it back in to stretch the lead to nine two minutes into the second half.
“She can do it all,” said George Mason coach LaBryan Thomas about Cheney, who totaled 26 points and 23 rebounds on the night. “She’s a big part of our defense and she can score from anywhere.
“We came out wanting to play with a lot of effort and I thought we did that. We played great defense and really got after it.”
Baskets by Chrane and Catlett and free throws from Hicks and junior Stephanie Nelson cut the lead to just seven heading into the fourth quarter, but George Mason quickly put the game out of reach.
Cheney hit two free throws to open the final quarter, teammate Katherine Goodwin scored in transition and off a pump fake inside and Cheney followed up a miss to make it 39-24 with less than four minutes to play.
Asked after the game what went wrong for his team, Lawrence put the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“Poor coaching, I didn’t have the kids ready, we didn’t have the type of movement or any type of flow on the offensive end,” Lawrence said. “The adjustments that I tried to make just didn’t happen for us.
“We just really had a difficult time and I think once we struggled with getting a few baskets that kind of translated over to the defensive end of the court. I just didn’t have the kids ready to play.”
For the game both teams shot just 28 percent from the field, but George Mason (16 for 58) took 22 more shots than Clarke County (10 for 36) thanks in part to a 40-25 edge in the rebounding department.
Chrane totaled 10 points and Catlett finished with five, but the duo combined to miss 20 of the 25 shots they took from the field.
While the effort and the result wasn’t what he was looking for, Lawrence hopes his team can use it as a learning experience.
“I feel like how the kids respond to this adversity is going to determine a lot about where our season goes,” Lawrence said. “If they can show the type of character that I think they possess they’re going to come in with a chip on their shoulders and take a lot of pride in what they’re doing and try to get better.
“But that remains to be seen how we respond to it. Practice [today] is another defining moment for us.”
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1