The Chantilly boys' basketball team is off to a 6-0 start for the second consecutive year. But virtually the only similarity between this season and last season's Chargers is the record.
Chantilly has just one player who was in last season's starting lineup, senior point guard Chris Clarke.
Clarke has played a prominent role this season, averaging 17.3 points per game. He scored 20 points and had 10 assists in Friday's 66-60 win over neighborhood rival and defending Concorde District champion Westfield.
But Coach Jim Smith's team, which will host the 10th annual Pohanka Chantilly Classic starting on Friday, has received other clutch performances. Trailing by six points in the fourth quarter last Friday, senior post player Brett Rembold (13 points) hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to three, and senior guard Jeremiah Andrews later hit a three-pointer to put his team ahead for good.
"I've been coaching a long time," said Smith, whose team won its first 16 games last year. "I'm pleased with what we've done, but we all know the important thing is to be playing our best in February and hopefully into March."
Reserve post player Russ deMonsabert is another key contributor for the Chargers. He gained a starting role four games ago when senior Akin Abisogon went down with a foot injury. DeMonsabert, who had 13 points Friday, has averaged double figures in scoring and six rebounds per game.
"Our defense has been the key to us winning," deMonsabert said. "We're mostly playing man, but we mix in some zone. Our defensive play is what really leads to our offense. Our offense is very opportunistic."
Napier Leads Hayfield Girls
Hayfield Coach Aggie McCormick-Dix entered the season with a roster of players who were unproven at the varsity level. And the Hawks' only returning starter -- Iyan Napier -- was slotted to move from the post to the backcourt.
So far, the new lineup has worked for Hayfield, which improved to 6-0 on Friday by winning its Patriot District opener, 65-29, over West Potomac. Napier, a 5-foot-7 senior, scored 19 points to lead the Hawks.
"Iyan has done a complete attitude change, and this year she knows she is a leader," McCormick-Dix said.
Napier, who has a 32-inch vertical jump, has been effective from all parts of the court. She has posted up opposing guards, scored from the outside and scored off penetration and put-backs. She is averaging nearly 20 points per game.
McCormick-Dix said she can't complain about the performance of anyone in her 10-player rotation. But she said her team should get a good indication of its talent during the first week of January when it faces defending Northern Region champion West Springfield as well as strong Langley and Robinson teams.
Meanwhile, McCormick-Dix said she hopes for continued improvement from freshman forward Melissa Kowalczyk, who has reached double-figures in scoring and rebounding in four games, and from freshman point guard Stephanie Lee, who scored 14 points against West Potomac.
"Stephanie is holding her own at point," said McCormick-Dix. "She's participating well at both ends for us."
Senior forward Cassie Womack has averaged double figures in rebounding.
The Hawks, a Northern Region semifinalist last season, will play in this weekend's Bulldog Bash Holiday Tournament at Westfield.
Their 6-0 mark is shared by the defending Northern Region champion Hayfield boys.
Hayfield boys' coach Charlie Thompson "and I are not really talking about our matching records right now," McCormick-Dix said. "We both have much greater long-term goals."