Quince Orchard's boys team has a different look this season with the return of 5-foot-7 shooting guard Mandel Frazier, and the result can be seen in the Gaithersburg school's impressive start. The Cougars are 8-1 and tied with No. 9 Magruder atop Montgomery County's 4A League at 6-0.

Frazier, a senior averaging 17 points per game, played for the Cougars as a sophomore. He moved to Atlanta his junior year before returning to Quince Orchard in September.

Frazier's outside shooting has kept opponents from double-teaming 6-6 forwards Greg Rector and Jevon Saulter. Quince Orchard's 76-62 victory over Churchill Saturday was a prime example. Frazier scored 20 points, Rector had 21 and 16 rebounds, and Saulter scored 14 points.

"Mandel has made a big difference for us," Coach Rick Dorsey said. "Teams can't afford to double- and triple-team Rector."

Back on Track

After losing to McNamara, Mount Zion (N.C.) and DeMatha in consecutive games, the Surrattsville boys have rebounded to win six straight, including Friday's 84-75 victory over No. 17 Central.

"We're playing a lot better," Coach Jim Butler said. "The key to beating Central was stopping [B.J.] Haigler and [Sean] Brooks. We focused our game plan on stopping them."

Surrattsville held Haigler and Brooks to a combined 36 points, while guards Terell Millington and Ronnie Virginia totaled 50. With the victory, the Clinton school improved to 7-3, 2-0 in Prince George's 2A. The Hornets will play at No. 15 Gwynn Park on Tuesday. . . .

The Stafford girls are 8-0, which is better start than their banner 1996 season, when they began the season 6-0, and won the Virginia AAA Commonwealth District before losing in the regional semifinals to Gar-Field.

The Stafford boys also are undefeated at 12-0.

A New Look

After River Hill's girls team finished last season 13-12, five varsity players decided not to return to play. But second-year coach Teresa Waters did not fret. She worked with the talent she already had and developed five new players. The results have been beyond expectations.

No. 13 River Hill (10-0), a four-year-old school in Clarksville, is tied with also unbeaten No. 16 Mount Hebron for first place in Howard County. The schools will play Friday at River Hill to decide the top spot.

River Hill is led by junior forwards Greeba Outen-Barlow and Keiko Miller-Tate, who are averaging 18 and 16 points per game, respectively. Freshman Fana Walcott is averaging 12 points and four steals. . . .

The No. 16 McNamara boys overcame 50 points from Bonner Academy (N.C.) senior Ricky Clemons to win, 92-76, at home on Saturday.

"That kid is tough," McNamara Coach Derek Campbell said, referring to the Wake Forest-bound Clemons. "He must have had a 35-inch vertical [leap]. But he was their only go-to guy."

But the week does not get easier for McNamara, which hosts top-ranked DeMatha on Tuesday and plays at No. 12 St. John's on Friday.

"I guess there is no rest for the weary," Campbell said. "But we have a good game plan ready for DeMatha. They are a very good team. We have to find some kinks in their armor."

Taking to the Road

Defending Maryland 3A girls champion DuVal won three games in the last four days following two disappointing losses--to No. 1 Riverdale Baptist and No. 7 Bullis--at the IAABO tournament in December.

But while in Baltimore last weekend, where the Tigers won back-to-back games, the No. 18 Tigers (6-3) took a day to work on rebuilding their chemistry with a professor from Coppin State University.

"We're beginning to come together," DuVal Coach Walter Clark said. "This road trip was a good thing for the girls to get away from school and spend time with each other as a team. I think the girls have played better and felt better about themselves." . . .

Emmanuel Christian senior guard Keirra Culpeper was presented with the game ball on Thursday when she went over the 1,000-point plateau for her career in a 60-18 home victory over Bethlehem Baptist. With a minute remaining in the third quarter, the referees decided to stop the game and present Culpeper with the ball. . . .

Was Oxon Hill boys coach Billy Lanier happy to see All-Met center Michael Sweetney back on the court for last Friday's home game against High Point?

"Oh yeah," Lanier said following No. 4 Oxon Hill's 83-47 victory. Sweetney led the Clippers with 16 points in 14 minutes and blocked eight shots (five in the first quarter). "It's great to have him back because he's a quiet leader. He's not a rah-rah guy; he's a quiet leader."

Staff writer Camille Powell contributed to this report.