Defending district champion South Lakes returns all-District guard Jerome Scott and 6-6 sophomore Grant Hill while 6-foot-11 all-Region center Crawford Palmer is back for Washington-Lee. The teams are the co-favorites but last year's dark horse, Yorktown, proved that the district is balanced. Herndon

The Hornets (11-11 overall last year) return only one starter -- junior guard Shane Scott (5-11, eight points per game). Coach Ed Tiernan had a tall front line with 6-8 Joe Lucas and 6-5 Eric Johnson a year ago. This season his top returning post player is 6-4 Jeff Grimm.

Herndon will be much quicker than last year, with Scott, Roddy Williams (6-0, 6.0 ppg) and newcomer Willie White (5-8). The team will switch to an up-tempo, pressure defense relying on its guards.

Tenth-year coach Tiernan is in his second year at Herndon, and his players should pick up his system a little quicker. The three-point shot should be a factor since Scott displayed excellent range during summer league play. Langley

The Saxons (12-12) have much work ahead of them this year. Three-year starters Bret Boehly (15.7 ppg, 10 rebounds per game) and John Pettibone (21.6 ppg, seven rpg) graduated last season, leaving a big scoring hole to fill.

No starters return for Langley this season, but the Saxons do have some size in juniors Brian Bradley and David Galiani (6-3) and seniors Kevin Cannon (6-5) and Mike Lamm (6-4). Senior Maher Atta (5-10) will be the point guard, learning on the job, as will most of the Saxons.

Coach Joey Hite, in his sixth year, will go with more man-to-man defense because of the three-point shot, and hopes to use the shot as an offensive weapon. But with the lack of experience, a slow start is likely. Madison

The Warhawks (15-9) tied for the regular season title with Washington-Lee, but slipped in the district tournament, and dropped an opening round game in the regional to eventual champion Robinson. Center Andy Bechtle (6-8) and swingman John Culbertson (6-7) graduated, and senior point guard Charles Wiggington will miss at least December because of academic ineligiblity.

George McLean, who has been coach at the school since 1973, returns 6-3 Jess Hatch (8.0 ppg), point guard Joey Jauch, Tom McWeeney, Craig Saunders and B.J. Runyon. Hatch and Jauch saw considerable action, but the rest were role players as juniors. McLean

The Highlanders (3-17) will once again pin their hopes on 6-4 senior swingman Kevin Blake. A year ago a leg injury sidelined him for all but a few games. When he was healthy he averaged 18 points a game.

With the 6-4 Blake, who transferred from Flint Hill Prep school a year ago, the Highlanders will be a competitive team. Without him last year they struggled offensively. Junior guard/forward Ronnie Carkhuff (6-2, 8.0 ppg) is a strong defensive player and junior David Wise (5-10) helps in the backcourt.

Fifth-year Coach Gabe Oliverio says his team's strength is the defense. The three-point shot is made for Blake, one of the best shooters in the region, and his presence will open things up for others. Marshall

The Statesmen (7-14) will again get a slow start because the football team's success is keeping several players off the court.

The Statesmen will be one of the district's smaller teams, with no starter over 6-3. Three starters return from last season, including senior Mike Jones (6-3, eight ppg), sophomore Marlon Jones (6-2), and senior point guard Lonnie Goldberg (5-10). But coach Greg Croghan points to forwards Mike Jones and Shawn Jones (6-3) as the keys to the season. "They have to stay out of foul trouble, because that is where we don't have a lot of experienced players." South Lakes

The Seahawks (17-7) return four players from last year's district championship team, and add several from their junior varsity, which won 18 of 21 games a year ago. The team also picked up two transfers, making the outlook even better.

Scott, a three-year starter, averaged 18 points a game last year. His leadership was evident a year ago when the Seahawks won the title with a freshman forward and a junior center with little experience. This year Hill (10.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg) returns after gaining valuable experience at the AAU level where he was named 14-and-under most valuable player.

Seniors Chip Crawford (6-8) and David Harris (6-5) also return, giving the Seahawks good size. Coming aboard for Wendell Byrd's varsity are transfers Mike Byrd from Maryland and Dan Troger from Falls Church along with juniors Michael Ellison (5-10), Rob Robinson (6-4) and David Jones (5-10). Washington-Lee

The Generals (17-8) were one game away from qualifying for the state tournament. Led by Palmer (who already has signed with Duke), a three-year starter, the Generals lost in the region semifinals to eventual champion Robinson. Palmer (18.0 ppg, 12 rpg, and five blocked shots per game) and guard Jackie Moore (6-2, 14.0 ppg) return, but the rest of the top six graduated.

Seventh-year Coach Dale Bethel will pair twins Mark and Eric Withers (6-1) in the backcourt while An Nguyen (6-1) and Gary Harvey (6-4) will share time at the fifth spot. Bethel once again has many good athletes and will pressure teams with man-to-man defense.

Teams often collapsed on Palmer last year, making the Generals shoot from the outside. But with Moore and both Withers, Washington-Lee try to take advantage of the three-point shot to open things up for their standout center. Yorktown

The Patriots (14-11) return their top two players from last year's regional semifinal team. Last year's squad peaked at playoff time and upset Northern District champion Lake Braddock in the playoffs on the way to a regional final four finish.

Junior forward Darryl Armstrong (6-2, 12 ppg) and senior center Terrence Knuckles (6-4) will have to fill the leadership void caused by the graduation of three senior starters. Junior guard Kenny Greene (6-0) take over one of the guard positions and the other two starting spots are still up for grabs.