* Coach: Larry Baker (first year).
* Last season: 20-5, 10-2.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 3/9.
The coach is different, but the wins are expected to keep on coming. Baker, a three-year assistant to Fred Milbert, who spent 15 years in the job, will try to lead the Indians to a 13th consecutive district championship.
Gar-Field returns two of the better players in the league in Kia Manuel and Nikki Wells, and there is plenty of experience and talent around them. Six of the players were not in the program last year, however, including three transfers. Two of those transfers, Aria Jones and Leilani Mafuli, could make an immediate impact.
The Indians' greatest loss was veteran point guard Sarah Jansen, but Baker expects Lisa Rendin and others to capably handle that spot. Depth is a strength.
"Once Lisa gets some experience, she'll provide the same type of glue that Sarah did," Baker said.
* Coach: Melvin Smith (second year, 3-19).
* Last season: 3-19, 3-9.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 3/6.
There is a youth movement afoot at Hylton, with the emphasis on both youth and movement. The Bulldogs plan to play at a much faster pace than they did last season to try to cash in on some easy baskets.
No returning player averaged as many as six points a game, however, and Hylton has more sophomores (six) than juniors and seniors combined (five).
"We're fast, young and looking to get after it," Smith said. "We want to keep the ball moving. We're looking for all the sophomores to jump right into the mix."
But first the Bulldogs must cut down on the 20-plus turnovers per game they committed last season. The ball-handling duties fall to Jennifer Rhodan, Michelle Austin and Carrie Uffleman.
Hylton's lone wins in 1998-99 came against last-place Stonewall Jackson and in an upset of third-place Potomac.
* Coach: George Washington (second year, 25-4).
* Last season: 25-4, 12-0.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 2/7.
Despite the return of two valued starters--point guard Kristin Portell and forward Kanee Booth--no team suffered a harder graduation hit than Woodbridge, which lost Division I players Orion Wake (Furman) and Tamika Dudley (Long Island) and defensive specialist Casey Godfrey, all of them team leaders. And Kelly Melton, the defensive stopper off the bench, has opted not to play this season.
The Vikings, who advanced to the state semifinals without winning the district or region titles, played several girls last season, but most of them settled into relatively undemanding roles. More will be expected this winter. The Vikings have the same number of sophomores (six) as they have juniors and seniors combined.
"Somebody has to step up for us," Washington said. "I don't know who that is yet. We'll have to see where our points come from."
Point guard Liana Wooten, who helped lead the Viking junior varsity team to an 18-0 record last season, could add some pop. Forward Angie Simms started two years ago but was hampered most of last season by injuries. Kathy Clark and Katie Sutton have sparkled at times in the paint.
* Coach: Sonya Smith (first year).
* Last season: 6-16, 5-7.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 2/8.
Smith so wanted to make sure she selected the best players for the three levels of her program that she extended tryouts from three days to five, keeping half of the 80 girls who turned out.
But paring down a roster might have been the easy part.
"We have to make them believe they can win and be successful," said Smith, who inherits a team that has gone 16-45 the past three seasons. The six wins last year all came against Hylton, Stonewall Jackson and Osbourn, the bottom three teams in the Cardinal District.
There are nine seniors on the varsity, so the Yellow Jackets are not chucking this season to build for the future. They will try to emphasize the inside game by working the ball in to Heather Sanden, Lauren Vella and others, and to do so they will need reliable ball-handling from point guard Adria Snead.
Smith, the only female head basketball coach in the district, coached at Brentsville in the early 1990s and in recent years has worked as an official.
* Coach: Barry Sudduth (first year).
* Last season: 7-12, 4-8.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 2/7.
The Eagles' fortunes fall mainly into the hands of point guard Kristie Carroll and forward Ayrica Walker, the team's top returning scorers. Osbourn will be outsized in just about every game.
"With our lack of height, we have to box out and play as a team to be successful," Sudduth said. "If we don't, we'll have a long year."
Jennifer Fenner, one of just three seniors on the team, scored in double figures in consecutive games last year and could provide some much-needed offensive punch. The Eagles closed 1998-99 by winning three of their last four regular season games, in the process avenging losses to Manassas rivals Osbourn Park and Stonewall Jackson.
Sudduth coached the Osbourn boys for 13 years in two stints and has not coached girls for more than 20 years.
"I coach basketball one way--for basketball players," he said.
* Coach: Mike Adkins (third year, 22-22).
* Last season: 13-9, 7-5.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 3/7.
Is this the year Potomac mounts a serious charge to finish in the top two in the district? The Panthers' victory total has increased each of the past five seasons to a decade-high 13 wins last year, and many players return. But Gar-Field and Woodbridge have traditionally owned Potomac.
"I think we'll be able to compete for the district title," said Adkins, whose team boasts so many post players that Kimisha Dabney, the district's leading returning scorer (15.7 ppg), will play some small forward this winter.
Tonique Robinson, who missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, and Cherie Cannady are the main post threats. Tashonda Henry is a capable shot blocker who poured in 31 points in a junior varsity game last year. Jennifer Felder is one of the district's top point guards, but there is scant backcourt depth, particularly now that Jackie Cunningham, the projected starter at shooting guard, has aggravated a leg injury.
Potomac has three sets of sisters on its varsity.
* Coach: Ira DeGrood (fourth year, 2-57).
* Last season: 2-19, 1-11.
* Returning starters/letter winners: 4/5.
Despite winning just two games, last season had its highlights for the Raiders. They beat North Stafford to snap a 62-game losing streak, picked up their first district win in about five years by edging Osbourn and played Gar-Field to a respectable 11-point loss in the first round of the Cardinal tournament.
So Stonewall has something to build on, particularly with guards Tish Hogan and Nikki Bowman--two of the top four returning scorers in the district--still on board. Hogan scored 27 points in that season-ending loss to Gar-Field, the most by a Cardinal girls player in 1998-99.
"We're better," DeGrood said. "We have a long way to go, but I'm happy."
Turnovers were a problem last year, but with a more experienced Hogan at the point, the Raiders are trying to goose the pace a bit. Sharpshooter Bowman would like to drive to the basket more often.
Besides Bowman and Hogan, the other returning Raiders accounted for just two double-figure scoring games last season (one each by Keri Cilinski and Martina Millberry).