Red Jenkins, in his 24th year at W.T. Woodson, may be turning in one of his finest performances as a boys basketball coach.
The Cavaliers, after a 1-4 start, are 5-8 overall, and despite losing to Lake Braddock Friday, 70-49, held a share of the Northern Distict lead with the Bruins and Robinson at 3-1 entering this week's games.
One of the keys to Woodson's improvement is 6-foot-4 Duane Clark, a hearing-impaired junior who is averaging eight points per game and leading Woodson in rebounding.
"He is going to be a real good player by next year," said Jenkins, who has had only one losing season in 27 years as a head coach. "Duane can sky, but he is just learning the game."
Clark has trouble wearing his hearing aid during games so Jenkins has resorted to more hand signals to help him.
"Sometimes we will signal one defense and he will be out there playing another," said Jenkins. "But the other players help him and we are trying to keep things simple by using just a couple of defenses."
Point guard John Szymczyk has been another factor in Woodson's turnaround. After making only five of 51 shots from the floor in his first five games, the senior is now averaging more than 14 points per game.
"I'm not sure how we will end up, but I do know our players are improving," said Jenkins.
"The whole county is excited," said Fauquier boys basketball Coach Allan Creasy about the Falcons' 10-4 start.
Fauquier, which last won the Commonwealth District title eight years ago, was tied with Woodbridge for district lead at 7-2 entering this week's games. Both league losses for the Falcons (10-4 overall) have been to the Warriors, including a 58-55 decision Friday in which Fauquier fell just short of overcoming a 16-point second-half deficit by scoring 14 straight points.
The Falcons, however, must attempt to retain their standing without senior point guard Aaron Davis, who was declared academically ineligible last week.
Without Davis, the Falcons must rely even more on junior small forward Ed Robertson, who is averaging 17 points per game, and 6-4 center Major Warner, who is averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Just when a format revision of the Northern Region's postseason basketball tournament seemed a dead issue, McLean Coach Gabe Oliverio cautions not to bury the concept.
Oliverio was the chief author of a proposal to have a "Sweet 16" round to determine the eight participants in the boys and girls tournaments. Currently, each of the four districts sends its regular-season and tournament winners to the regional tournament and most involved say any change to that format would require redistricting. District alteration will not be tackled for two more years.
Yet Oliverio says several proposals are still to be discussed by coaches in hopes an acceptable plan can be achieved sooner.
"At the end of the basketball season, we will meet and discuss them," said Oliverio. "We are still hoping to work something out for next season."
For area softball fans, the offseason is always too long. Now, Champion Indoor Sports on Leesburg Pike in Falls Church is helping make it shorter.
The indoor facility, which opened in December, has six batting cages that can be set for fast-pitch or slow-pitch softball or baseball at 40 to 90 mph. It also has an artificial surface infield which teams can rent for $35 per hour.
"It's a unique concept in the country," said Champion President Paul Tischler. "Other places have indoor batting cages, but no one has an infield like ours. We think if this idea will work anywhere, it will work in this area."
The century mark became an important plateau last week for both St. Stephen's 112-pound wrestling star Mel Shabelski and his coach, David Hooper.
Shabelski, a senior who has not lost in 31 straight dual matches including 19 this season, pinned Eric Loy of St. Albans in 2:15 for his 100th career win. He has since won two more decisions raising his career record to 102-24.
A two-time Virginia state prep champion, Shabelski joins John Freeman, who graduated in 1984 with 129 victories, and Andy Fellows, who finished in 1981 with 118, as the only other St. Stephen's wrestlers with 100 or more career victories.
Hooper, a Wakefield graduate who won the Virginia state 95-pound championship in 1967, reached the 100-victory mark as a coach as St. Stephen's defeated St. Christopher's of Richmond Friday, 36-25.