One game into his varsity basketball career, Isiah Clark already has a toehold on team-headliner status.

That's preferable to having a broken big toe, which was the injury that prevented Clark from making his debut during the 2007-08 season.

We're talking two different schools, by the way.

Clark, a 5-10 junior, plays/serves as a combination guard for New Media Charter, and yesterday he stormed to 26 points as the Jaguars frolicked past Creative and Performing Arts, 63-42, in a Public D (and season) opener.

His former school was Germantown.

"I made the team last year," he said. "But before we got into games, I broke my toe playing ball at a playground near my house.

"That was frustrating. Aside from the fact that it hurt, it meant I couldn't play all season. I still went to the games, but it's hard just to watch. I felt like taking the cast off."

He paused, then added with a smile, "Actually, I did take it off after 2 months or maybe 2 1/2. But by then, they were already set with everything, and I didn't try to come back. Plus, I wasn't myself yet."

Clark said a transfer to New Media, a third-year Pub now located in a beautifully rehabbed building across the street from Edmonds Elementary in Mount Airy, was suggested by a church league coach.

"I didn't know anything about this place," he said. "But I love it. It's a nice, cozy school. Everybody's nice and friendly, and we all know each other. I only knew two kids who were going here. They said nice things. They were right.

"This gym is nice. We wanted to start things off with a win. We knew lots of students would be coming out. So the idea was to win while also making things fun for them."

Thanks mostly to Clark and senior point guard Shawon Tennessee, who performed in whirlwind fashion against a squad with all guards but major ballhandling issues, the Jaguars stormed to a 15-2 lead in the first 8 minutes.

Clark posted nine of his points and three steals. Tennessee also notched three pilfers as the Jaguars rang up 13 alone in that session (of 24 total).

In time, Harold Gordon (13, also 16 points) and 6-7 neophyte Greg Bush (11) owned the boards, while Bryton Hawthorne contributed in assorted areas (eight points, three apiece of assists and steals).

Clark shot 10-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-7 at the line. His first field goal was a trey.

"I didn't know Shawon before I got here, but we're working together fine," Clark said. "He looks for me. I like to get out on the break."

In other words, basket hang.

"Yeah," he said, laughing. "If you can get downcourt for easy baskets and they don't stop it, might as well, right?"

Matt Powers, a sophomore wing guard, scored 23 points for CAPA; nine came on fourth-quarter threes.

Clark lives near Chew and Phil-Ellena, where Germantown blends into Mount Airy, and has been knocking around on the hoops trail for what seems like forever.

"I've played AAU since I was 8 years old," he said. "Been all over America. My dad [Elijah Clark] coached me lots of the time." *