No county team had won four straight boys basketball titles until Oakland Mills turned the trick last season.
The Scorpions appear ready and able to extend that streak this season with one of their finest teams ever.
Hoping to chase down Oakland Mills will be Hammond, Wilde Lake, Centennial and Glenelg. Hammond has finished second six straight years.
But Oakland Mills is so strong that the pack certainly seems destined to a battle for second place, not first.
Here's a team-by-team analysis:
The Raiders were snake-bit last season. They twice lost by two points to league champion Oakland Mills and once by two points to Centennial. They lost by three points to Howard and Wilde Lake.
Their inability to win the close ones left them witha disappointing 6-8 league record and 9-14 overall.
This year's team might not be as strong. The players who created its frontcourt strength graduated last year.
The Raiders do have some known strength in the backcourt with shooting guard Brian Van Deusen and Northern High transfer David Morris at the point.
However, injuries and illnesses have already disrupted the team's progress, and the Raiders face tougher competition in moving up to Class 3A.
But Jim Albert isone of the finest coaches in the area and seems to get more from hisplayers than anyone would think possible.
The Raiders have made the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 years under Albert, so don't be surprised if they do it again.
The Eagles disappointed fans last year, winning just five league games and producing an 11-12 record.
But Coach Jim Hill thinks this year's team is the best he's had in eight seasons at Centennial. The team returns three startersand six lettermen.
Junior forward Damian Biggs averaged 14.5 points as a sophomore, and he may improve on that this year. Also returning is senior forward Charlie Stewart, who averaged 11.5 points, giving the Eagles a solid offensive nucleus.
Senior Ken Ulman started the second half of last season at guard and averaged 8.5 points from then on.
Senior Keith Krider will take over the point guard spot that Austin Groves played so well last season. Groves graduated.
Senior Brian Reid, who missed last season due to injuries from a car accident, is back and should help. Reid, at 6-foot-3, averaged 12 pointsas a sophomore.
Hill also has five players from a junior varsity team that went 15-5.
"It will be hard to know where and how to play them all," Hill said.
Like Centennial, the Gladiatorsreturn three starters. And like Centennial's coach Hill, Glenelg coach Terry Coleman thinks this is the best team he's ever had.
Glenelg will be an up-tempo squad that hopes to score a lot of points. TheGladiators are small, but that no longer worries Coleman.
"Those 6-4 guys used to worry me, but the three-point shot is now the great equalizer," Coleman said.
The team shot 26 three-pointers in its first scrimmage this season and 20 in the second scrimmage.
Jeff Slack is Glenelg's best player and perhaps the league's most-improved player. The 6-foot-2 senior forward averaged 12 points last year.
"He goes to the hoop well, can sky and shoot," Coleman said.
Seniorguard Craig Flurry and senior forward Kevin Roland are two other returning starters.
But three players up from junior varsity will provide Glenelg the quality it needs to turn its program around.
Guards Jamie Brinker and Scott Cline and forward Jason Beall should make Glenelg fans forget last season's disastrous 0-14 league record and 3-18 overall mark.
Coleman hopes the team can make the playoffs.
The Bears lost to Wilde Lake in the Class 2A regional final last season after back-to-back state playoff appearances.
Hammond has finished second in the league six straight seasons.
During Coach Jack Burke's six seasons, the team has a 93-46 record, second only to Oakland Mills.
Some people think the Bears are headed for abump in the road this year, but it's not likely.
They have juniorpoint guard Kris Jefferson, senior 6-foot-4 forward Andrew Teteh, senior shooting guard James Grant, senior 6-foot-6 center Richard Williamson and senior 6-foot-4 forward Curtis Barnard as a starting lineup.
The Bears will normally play a run-and-shoot style and a pressing defense that will create points.
"It just depends if they want to execute," Burke said. "If they do, we could be 16-4. If they don't,we could be 4-16."
The Lions have only three returning players, but they are equipped with size, quickness and talent and should do better than the 11-12 mark posted last season.
"We may getoff to a rough beginning, but we should jell by the time the league season rolls around," Coach Rich Jenkins said. "If we rebound well, we should give some teams fits."
Dave Jones, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, is the most talented letterman.
But two others look like starters -- senior swing man Yaphet Oliphant and senior forward Ed MacLemore.
Newcomers Michael Ware and Mike Brown should also start. Ware'sa 6-foot-5 junior center, and Brown is a 5-foot-10 guard who can score.