Like many professional and college sports leagues, Northern Virginia basketball coaches are leaning toward downgrading the regular season's significance by greatly expanding the regional postseason tournament.

But the proposal for a 16-team championship appears tabled for at least this season.

A proposal recently passed by the Northern Virginia Boys Coaches Association recommended expansion of the tournament to 16 teams -- the top four finishers in each district. Currently, the eight-team tournament is made of the four regular-season winners and four district-tournament winners, with the tournament runnerup gaining a bid if the regular-season winner also captures the tournament.

The girls coaches association decided at its recent meeting not to back expansion of the tournament.

Although the boys and girls could operate under different formats to choose their representative to the state tournament, it is unlikely the regional council (composed of principals and athletic directors from all 26 schools) would approve a partial change.

"I would have to say it is dead for this year," said Robinson Coach Bob McKeag, who is president of the boys association. "Hopefully, we can get the girls association to approve also and then take it through the process of getting each district council to approve and then bring it before the regional council. But for right now, I think everyone would just rather concentrate on their own seasons."

The plan to expand the tournaments stems from a desire to produce more revenue. Additionally, some coaches from stronger districts would like a better chance at postseason play, claiming other teams gain berths just because they are the best of weaker districts.

The boys coaches defeated a 16-team tournament proposal that would have accepted the top two finishers in each district and the next eight teams, regardless of district, with the best rating on a power-points system.

West Potomac Coach Paul Jansen, who heads the girls association, opposes expansion.

"You could have a lot of teams in the tournament with very poor records," said Jansen, who would like the four-team state tournament expanded. "Some coaches say it gives everyone more of an opportunity for postseason play, but in reality, a change would come down to a matter of economics."

McKeag said the issue probably will lie dormant until the matter of district realignment is decided. Last year's merger of Fort Hunt and Groveton into West Potomac left the Gunston District with only five schools.

Michelle Griglione, 16, of Alexandria, the current national champion in the 200-meter individual medley and the holder of the second fastest time in the world in that event this year, was chosen to attend the one-week Senior Elite Training Camp which starts tomorrow in Honolulu.

Griglione, whose coach, Rick Curl, was chosen as one of six leaders of the camp, has a best of 2:15.94 in the 200 IM. She also holds the second fastest world time this season in the 400-meter IM (4:46.79) and is ranked in the 100 freestyle (56.72) and butterfly (1:01.60).

Lunn Lestina of Fairfax was listed among the world's top men swimmers in the 800-meter freestyle (8:14.22).

Lestina and Christine Smith of Alexandria will attend the Junior Elite Training Camp which begins tomorrow in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Vienna Youth Association, already thinking ahead toward warmer weather, will hold three registrations in January for boys lacrosse teams, fifth grade through high school, and its girls high school team.

Registration will be Saturdays, Jan. 4, 11 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Vienna Community Center.

Potential players or volunteer coaches can obtain further information by calling the club's commissioner, Alex Harris.

The Virginia High School League's Group AAA board, which met recently in Charlottesville, narrowly voted to keep gymnastics on the winter sports calendar.

By a vote of 39-31, the schools agreed to maintain gymnastics on its current calendar, rather than move them to the fall or spring.

The main thrust behind the proposal was the attempt to revive the sport, which has seen a general decline in participation in recent years. Supporters thought a move away from the busy winter season could attract more athletes.