Realignment of the Northern Region's four districts, a matter which the basketball coaches association calls a key to its proposal to expand the regional tournament to 16 teams, has been tabled for at least two years by a committee of the Regional Council.
The last major redistricting of the region occurred in the mid-1970s. Last year's merger of Groveton and Fort Hunt into West Potomac High left the Gunston District with only five schools, prompting discussion that redistricting is needed.
This season, the region's boys basketball coaches proposed expanding the regional tournament from eight to 16 teams. If four teams from each district were admitted to the tournament, that would make Gunston's representation top-heavy under the current alignment.
"Redistricting is always a topic of discussion, but the committee voted not to do anything about it for two years," said West Springfield Principal George Stepp, who is chairman of the Regional Council. "Right now, we are locked into schedules for the next two years."
Stepp said when discussions do start, a number of factors should make the process complicated. Most important among those concerns are existing rivalries, schools' location and the effect of changing enrollment figures on particular schools.
It comes a year too late for Woodbridge's boys, but the Commonwealth District will institute a playback system this year to determine its basketball champions if the same school does not win both the regular season title and the postseason tournament.
In previous years, the tournament winner was declared the district champion and given the better seed in the Northwest Region tournament. Last season, the Warriors were 18-0 against district opponents, but were upset by arch rival Gar-Field in the district tournament.
The playback system requires the regular-season titlist to play the tournament winner in a one-game playoff to determine the district champion.
"I think everybody prefers to have the playback," said Woodbridge Coach Don Brown. "It makes sense. Here we were 18-0 and got beat by one team in the district tournament. We were clearly the better team and we ended up with nothing."
Woodbridge has come back strong this season. The Warriors won nine of their first 12, with the losses coming by two points to Spingarn of the powerful Interhigh League and to Commonwealth opponents Stafford and Potomac.
Three-year starter Kevin Berry, a 6-foot-4 forward, is averaging 20 points per game leading Woodbridge's transition attack. Fred Cooper, a 6-5, 215-pound junior, adds muscle and 16 points per game.
Wakefield, without a senior on its roster or a starter over 6-0, was expected to be a patsy in the Potomac District. But Coach Bob Veldran, who has not produced a finish lower than third in five years despite a minimum of talent, is pulling tricks off the chalkboard again.
Wakefield is 3-4, including back-to-back wins over Potomac favorite Jefferson by 18 points and Chantilly by six.
The four losses have been by a combined 13 points.
"We have played hard every game," said Veldran, who has the Warriors playing an aggressive man-to-man defense. "Now we are starting to play smarter."
Junior Joe Lowe, who was moved from guard to forward this year, has led Wakefield with a 23.0 scoring average.
Veldran said Wakefield's season-long hopes may rest on the improvement of 5-6 junior guard Tyrone (Putt) Smith. He has averaged eight points per game, chiefly from the outside.