Lee and Mount Vernon return strong teams, Lee getting the edge as the favorite because of the return of standout Ashley Hancock. If it gets solid play from the backcourt, West Potomac could make it a three-team race. Hayfield and Edison each have one strong player, but they will have to get help from the inexperienced ranks. The three-point shot, instituted throughout the nation in high school basketball, should bring new excitement. Edison

New coach Lori Barb sees 1987 as a rebuilding year for the Eagles (2-17) and has begun her coaching career at Edison with the goal of "turning the program around and starting a winning tradition."

Senior guard Ruth Payne (5-6), the team's top returning scorer, and Becky Miller (5-3, sophomore) return in the backcourt. Another sophomore, Chrissy Diaforli (5-9), will see time at forward.

Senior Kathy Hackenson (5-9) and freshman Charlene Sorrano (5-10) give the Eagles size up front but inexperience could be a problem. With only three seniors, the biggest problem could be leadership. The Eagles have good size and some speed but they are extremely young.Hayfield

The Hawks (10-14) return four players including all-district selection Lisa Barnes. Barnes (6-2, senior) one of the top players in the league, will have extra responsiblilties with the loss of Cindy Hazel, who transferred to West Potomac.

Seniors Jenny Shue (5-5, guard) and Marleen Myers (5-1, point guard) give Hayfield experience at the guard spots and Ellen Pascal (5-8, forward) will join Barnes up front. Paula Rowland, a 5-11 freshman, may see some time at forward.

Despite a lack of depth, first-year coach Nancy Archer will have the Hawks playing an up-tempo transition game predicated on aggressive man-to-man pressure.Lee

The Lancers (22-7) lost four key players from last year's team but don't feel sorry for Ron Simms' team -- they could be the team to beat in the Gunston District once again. Four experienced players return including point guard Ashley Hancock (19 points), an all-Met selection a year ago.

Hancock, a 6-1 senior who signed early with North Carolina State, led the Lancers to within one victory of qualifying for the state tournament -- Lee lost to Stuart, the eventual state champion, in the regional semifinals. The four-year starter is a strong passer, defender and shooter, and handles the ball on almost every Lancers' possession. Joining Hancock are returnees Krissy Weisenfels (5-10, 13 points), Holly Hellmuth (5-7, junior) and Beth Mittendorf (5-9, senior), providing Lee with excellent size and quickness.

The Lee bench is young but will give Simms a chance to substitute. But Simms will have to be patient with Laice Quick (5-4, junior), Beth Park (5-6, sophomore) and Zeki Blanding (a 6-2 freshman who is a probable starter) as they adjust to varsity play. Mount Vernon

The Majors (14-10) played a very tough schedule last year making their record a bit deceptive. Two key players, Candee Zepka (5-7, 14 points) and Sharon Parsons (5-5, eight points), return from that team and Gary Young returns to coach after leading Mount Vernon to a 79-21 mark between 1981-84.

Kim Patrick, a 5-6 guard, will give Mount Vernon added quickness and depth in the backcourt. Sophomore center Merel Van Zanten (6-0) and junior guard Andi Wilson are up from the junior varsity.

The Majors are a quick, good shooting team and should battle Lee for the district title. West Potomac

The Wolverines (14-10) have graduated five guards in the last two years. This year West Potomac again could be strong in the backcourt. Sophomore Tina Tucker (5-7, 12 points) and Elizabeth Shawkey, a 5-10 converted forward, are the reasons why.

Three returnees on the front line make West Potomac strong at all five positions. Center Jane Greenleese (a 5-11 senior) has slimmed down and Coach Paul Jansen expects big things from her. Amy Ernest (5-9) and Caroline Duffy (6-1) also are back, giving Jansen more things to be optimistic about. Shannon Beal, a sophomore point guard up from the junior varsity, and Hayfield transfer, Cindy Hazel, (a 5-10 forward) give the Wolverines some depth and flexibility.

Nine players return from last year, but only one who played considerably in the backcourt. Since the team isn't as quick as last year, how well the inexperienced guards perform in a controlled offense will determine West Potomac's fortunes.