With four starters back from last year's AAA Concorde District championship and Northern Region runner-up team, Chantilly was not expected to open the season 0-3. In retrospect, Coach John Kelly said, it might have been exactly what the Chargers needed.

"We knew that the first three games weren't going to be easy," Kelly said. "But we were shocked to lose them all. It was good for us. It knocked us off our pedestal and made us hungry to win again. We're playing our best basketball of the year right now."

Since losing to Robinson, West Springfield and Madison -- three of the area's top programs -- Chantilly, behind senior All-Met guard Alena Koshansky (20.8 points per game), Caitlyn Gorski and Katie Argy, has reeled off three straight victories, including a 51-41 win at Westfield in the district opener for both teams on Friday. That win restored the Chargers' confidence and showed the rest of the district opponents that Chantilly is ready to defend its title.

"The Concorde is going to be tough again this year, so any time you win it's big," Kelly said. "And to do it on the road, that was a very important statement."

The biggest reason for the turnaround, Kelly said, was his decision to go back to the four-guard lineup the Chargers successfully executed last season rather than the two-post player system he implemented early this season. Another major factor has been the improving health of Gorski, who has been recovering from a badly sprained right ankle suffered in the fall. She is averaging nearly 11 points per game.

"We've always been a fast team, so we struggled a little when we went with the two post players," Gorski said. "We play very well with the four-guard lineup. If it isn't broken, don't fix it."

-- Tarik El-Bashir

En route to last season's championship, Chantilly's Katie Argy beats Nikki Rowland, disappoints Mount Vernon Coach Kenny Farmer, right.