New season, new gym

Boys basketball looks to start their season off on the right foot.

Carter Mackinnon, Staff Reporter

Boys playing basketball
The boys basketball team plays their first game of the season tonight in the newly finished gym. (Photo via Mustang Athletics Twitter)

Coach Michael Gilroy rolls out his George Mason High School (GMHS) boys Varsity basketball team tonight for their opener against Manassas Park (January 12 at 7:30 in the new GMHS gym) looking to improve on last years 12-10 (8-4 Bull Run District) record. Gilroy replaces three key seniors after losing the Mustangs second leading scorer, Deven Martino who transferred to Bishop O’Connell. 

Graduation and transfers create increased playing time and new opportunities at GMHS, including the return of two senior starters— leading scorer Bobby Asel (#10) and Ryan Fletchall (#4) 4.0 ppg in 2020. Varsity juniors Mac Duross (#24), Ben Yimaj (#21, and Duncan Miller (#20) return with a combined three years of Varsity experience. A welcome addition to offset Martino’s transfer, is Scott Trundle (#33), a 6’2” big man with excellent three point range. 

“Not having an off-season to get to gel as well as already having been put on pause for over a week, it’s been difficult to say the least. But every team and every coach is going through the same factors so we can’t dwell on it. We just gotta take it a day at a time and be ready to adapt, COVID will not be an excuse that we will use in terms of wins and losses,” Coach Gilroy said.

The 2021 Mustangs will also rely on hustle and depth in this abbreviated 12 game compressed season administered by the VHSL. Marco Ferrara (#23) and Jameson Smith (#3) should contribute from the bench in this unique season of district only games. Because COVID-19 and VHSL restrictions prevented the traditional tune-up or holiday tournament games, Gilroy adjusted his tactics, emphasizing during practices the ability for the team to create its own energy, especially from the bench. 

 “We need to bring intensity every practice, and we have to make sure the bench is engaged and loud when we make plays during our games,” senior James Trombo said.

 Tonight’s opponent Manassas Park (2-1, 2-1) is trying to spoil the boys basketball home opener. The Cougars are headlined by two Juniors Payton Simmons (#2) and Jace Garza (#5). The Cougars also have two senior starters: Cameron Dixon (#11) and Collin Griffith (#22) who have both been two-year starters on the team.  As you look deeper into the bench you will find Rex Daniel (#0) and Devin Chambers (#10) who can both shoot the ball really well.

For a George Mason victory, the Mustangs must reduce turnovers. Mistakes occur frequently in first games, but taking care of the basketball on offense by getting good shots will help neutralize Garza, a proven elite scorer in the Northwestern District. 

Because VHSL and FCCPS rules reduce the capacity to family only attending live, follow the Mustangs online tonight on the live stream starting at 7:30 p.m.