BROAD RUN SPARTANS

* Last season: 0-22, 0-14 Northwestern District.

* Coach: Larry Boomer (eighth season).

* Top returning players: G John Costello, 5-8, Jr. (8.6 ppg); F Kevin Hyatt, 6-0, Jr.; F Chris Ott, 6-2, Jr.; F Darren London, 6-2, Sr.; G Brian Newton, 5-8, Jr.

* Key departures: None.

On opening night, the Spartans did their best to forget a miserable 1998-99 season by winning--something they did not do all last season. But they have bigger goals than that. The program appears to have recovered from losing half its students when Potomac Falls High opened three years ago and split the talent pool in the school district. "We finally seem to be at a level playing field in AA," Broad Run Assistant Coach John Costello said.

Costello's son, John Jr., heads a varsity roster that should have a leg up on opponents as far as team chemistry. All the Spartans return from a year ago, and that's key for this team, since it will have to rely on a team-oriented attack to compete. The Spartans start no one taller than 6 feet 2, so the plan is to press, force some turnovers, play an up-tempo style and hope to get most of their points in transition. "We really can't afford to get involved in a half-court game," Costello said, "because we'll just get worn down that way."

SCHEDULE

(All nontournament games start at 7:30 p.m.)

December

1 Potomac Falls (W, 49-48)

7 Paul VI (L, 86-52)

10 at Liberty

14 at Loudoun County

17 Warren County

20 at Osbourn

21 at Loudoun Valley

27-29 LTM Tournament at Park View HS

January

4 Handley

7 at Park View

11 at Paul VI

14 at Potomac Falls

21 Liberty

25 Loudoun County

28 at Warren County

February

4 Loudoun Valley

9 Osbourn

11 at Handley

18 Park View

22, 25-26 District tournament

FAUQUIER FALCONS

* Last season: 18-7, 10-4 Northwestern District.

* Coach: Wayne Brizzi (sixth season, 84-36).

* Top returning players: G Marcus Williams, 6-2, Jr. (12.0 ppg, second-team All-Extra); F John Stuart, 6-2, Sr.

* Key departures: G Sean Donohue (11.9 ppg, first-team All-Extra); F Matt Green (5.6 ppg).

* New faces: G Chris Turner, 5-10, Sr.; G Dwayne Taylor, 5-10, Jr.; C Michael Brown, 6-5, Jr.

It already was going to be tough on Brizzi, 1999 All-Extra Coach of the Year, as he tries to replace four starters. But he also has to break in his new players against tougher opponents; Fauquier jumps from the Group AA Northwestern District to the Commonwealth District in AAA. "Everyone's going to be a little bit bigger and a little bit faster," Brizzi said. "We just have to try and keep up."

It may turn out that Fauquier opponents will be trying to keep up with Falcons junior guard Williams, the team's second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder. Williams can play both guard positions and even small forward if need be. "We've got to ask him to do a little extra for us this year," Brizzi said. Look for Turner and Taylor to split time in the back court with Williams. If all three are in the lineup, Brizzi would "like to push the ball up and down the court." But that depends a lot on how well the Falcons rebound the ball. Senior Stuart and junior Brown will be asked to take care of those duties.

SCHEDULE

December

3 at Loudoun County (W, 59-58)

7 Stafford (L, 74-58)

Note: Coaching staff did not furnish schedule before press time.

LIBERTY EAGLES

* Last season: 1-20, 0-14 Northwestern District.

* Coach: Paul Frye (fifth season, 25-83).

* Top returning players: G Tevin Venia, 6-1, Sr. (6.0 ppg).

* Key departures: F Hank Meadows (11.7 ppg).

* New faces: F Evan Carter, 6-3, Jr.; F Patrick Moore, 6-3, Jr.

The best way to erase a forgettable season is to start from scratch, which is what the Eagles plan to do. Gone are four starters from last year's 1-20 team and in their spots is an inexperienced bunch that will get an immediate chance to contribute. The offense will revolve around Venia, the lone returning starter, who can play either guard position depending on his back-court mate.

Venia might have suffered last season from heightened expectations. His brother, Tav, graduated in 1998 after averaging 19.9 ppg and earning all-district honors his senior year. The pressure remains on him this year, not to live up to his brother's legacy but to carry this team as the only player with significant experience. "It's still up in the air whether he is able to carry us by himself," Frye said. When crunch time hits, defenses likely will key on Venia, forcing him to look elsewhere. Frye feels that Carter and Moore, who both starred on Liberty's junior varsity team last season, can be effective inside scoring threats complementing Venia. "They can both handle the ball well and have decent mid-range jumpers," Frye said. At times, both Carter and Moore will have to play bigger than they are, as the Eagles have no true center. They will try to win with athleticism and defense, as most teams short on experience are forced to do.

SCHEDULE

(All nontournament games start at 7:30 p.m.)

December

3 Spotswood at Spotswood Tournament (L, 66-58)

4 Buffalo Gap at Spotswood Tournament (W, 62-49)

7 Loudoun County (W, 64-60)

10 Broad Run

14 at Warren County

17 Loudoun Valley

21 at Handley

28-30 Fauquier Times Democrat Winter Classic

January

4 Park View

7 at Potomac Falls

14 at Loudoun County

15 at Fauquier

21 at Broad Run

25 Fauquier

28 at Loudoun Valley

February

1 Warren County

4 Handley

11 at Park View

18 Potomac Falls

22, 25-26 District tournament

CAPTION: Tevin Venia, left, will try to help Liberty improve on last year's 1-20 record, while the Loudoun Valley Vikings must overcome the loss of key starters.