George Mason girls cap undefeated season with Class 3 state title

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Sophomore forward Elizabeth Creed led the Mustangs with 23 points, converting all six of her free throws.

“It’s a really great feeling to be able to help out the team in such a big way,” Creed said by phone afterward. “. . . Our defense really turned into our offense, and overall I’m very excited we’re state champs.”

The Mustangs (16-0) were dominant on defense throughout the season, holding opponents to fewer than 20 points five times. But the state championship, against a strong opponent, didn’t initially go to form.

Spotswood had a quick 9-2 run and controlled the pace early, forcing George Mason mistakes against a full-court press. Zoraida Icabalceta, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, went without a point in the first half.

“At the beginning of the game, I blame that on nerves,” George Mason Coach Chris Carrico said. “Once we got relaxed, that’s when I really started seeing the team that I saw all year out there.”

George Mason battled back near the end of the first half to go into halftime with a 31-27 lead despite Spotswood guard Abigail Branner scoring 12 of her game-high 25 points before the break.

George Mason clamped down defensively to start the third quarter and picked up its transition game, racing out to an 8-0 run.

The Mustangs went on a 13-0 run late in the third after Carrico employed a zone defense, causing the Trailblazers (10-2) to miss contested shots.

“In the first half, we left open some jump-shooters out there, but really I think the ‘D’ clamped down, and I think our rotations were way better in the third quarter and forced them to make tough shots,” Carrico said.

The Mustangs built their lead to 24 points in the fourth quarter, backed by strong performances from junior forward Megan Tremblay and junior guard Bella Paradiso, who both scored in double figures.

With two minutes remaining, Carrico subbed in five reserves, giving his key players a chance to bask as time ticked down toward a title.

“This has been a goal of ours since day one” Carrico said. “I couldn’t be any happier. When we played our game, no one could really keep up with us, and that’s what I kept telling the girls all year, and they bought into that.”

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