Chantilly girls' basketball head coach Valerie Allen survived a rough sports weekend.
First the Pittsburgh native's beloved Steelers dropped a game to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Dec. 6 and then her Lady Chargers lost their season-opener 41-34 on Dec. 3 to McLean.
"The Steelers didn't want to play fourth-quarter defense and I guess my team didn't either," she said jokingly.
Fortunately, the poor weekend didn't spill over into the girls' second game of the year, a 73-51 victory over Yorktown on Dec. 8.
With a 1-1 record to start the year, Allen said it's time for the Lady Chargers to get back to work and continue improving.
The second-year coach already has pinpointed the issues her team needs to address if they want to be successful.
Her first item of business: Find a point guard who can quarterback the team's offense.
"We're trying to find some consistency in the point guard position," she said. "We need to see who will step up and take that role. It's our most important priority."
FORTUNATELY FOR ALLEN, she has five candidates for the job and all bring a different style of game to the team.
"I have to find the one or two who can be consistent every night," she said. "I feel like I can move them around and try to see what works the best for us right now."
One of the possible point guards is sophomore Katrina Hutzell who scored 12 points in the Chargers’ victory over Yorktown.
"I see the floor well, especially on fast breaks," she said. "I like to distribute the ball and get it down the court."
Another point guard prospect is senior Katie Poe who said she doesn't view competing for the position as a distraction.
"If one of us is having a bad day on the court, we can back each other up," she said. "Different teams offer different styles and one of us might be better for that team."
Another challenge for Allen is acclimating her roster to varsity-level play.
"We have eight seniors on the team and it seems like a lot of experience," she said. "Of those eight seniors, two were two-year junior varsity kids and only three started [on varsity] last year."
WITH SUCH an older, inexperienced team, Allen said the team's success will be determined by how fast her older players grow into their new competition.
"I'm going to lose 50 percent of my team next year," she said. "We have to build upon what we have, not what we have coming up."
The Chargers won't play a Concorde District team until Jan. 8 when they face Robinson. Allen said the team's December schedule is a good proving ground for her team.
Chantilly's second week of play begins against Madison on Dec. 11. The team will face Hayfield, West Springfield and Wakefield before the annual Pohanka Chantilly Classic Basketball Tournament over the holiday break.
"We have a tough schedule in December," Allen said. "It's going to get us ready for Concorde District play."
Despite the 1-1 start, Allen isn’t worried that her team won’t be successful this season. The early hiccups will breed winning later on, she adds.
"It's the little details that we need to take care of now," Allen said. "It's not about how we start. It's how we finish."