Potomac boys basketball Coach Taft Hickman has already begun to wonder what if. With six players from last year's 20-4 team back, Hickman had every reason to be optimistic about this season. But in September three of his top players were seriously injured in a car accident.

Kevin Powell, a 6-3 junior, and probably the team's second-best player, suffered a broken leg. Devron Ashe, a 6-4 sophomore and a probable starter, suffered two broken legs. Robert Butts, a 6-1 senior and probable sixth man, broke his thigh.

"With those kids and returnee 6-6 Jason Scott and a few other kids back, I felt we would have been very good," Hickman said, prior to losing his opener to Largo. "I thought we had a good chance to better last year's mark. The one good thing that came out of it was I got a chance to see a lot of other players. I still think we can be good."

Butts is out of his cast and says he hopes to return by January.

"Since I'm a senior, I'm a little disappointed because I expected to have a good season," Butts said. "I'm going to begin running soon and I'm coming back."

The prognosis is not quite as positive for Ashe or Powell.

Said Powell, "It's 50-50 for me. I had a good summer league and hoped to make a big contribution this year before this happened. I could possibly come back by February, but I don't know. I'll definitely be ready next season."

Ashe, a talented 15-year-old who excelled in AAU age-group competition, was in a coma for almost 10 days. But he, too, is coming along fine and hopes to return next season.

Right now, all three players must be content playing the role of cheerleaders while Hickman is experimenting with different combinations trying to rebuild his team.

H.D. Woodson needs two boys basketball teams to participate in its Davis Memorial Christmas Tournament Dec. 26 and 27. If interested, contact Coach Rudy Peters at the school.

Laurel's first state football championship culminated a superb fall athletic season for the school. The Spartans' girls volleyball team finished second in the Prince George's AB League, first in the region and third in the state; the boys soccer team finished first in the AB, first in the region and lost in the state semifinals; and both the girls and boys cross country teams placed second in the county, first in the district and second in the state.

But the finest achievement was capturing the Class A state football crown at Byrd Stadium. Laurel defeated Linganore, 14-0, to win the school's first state football title and post its best record, 12-1. . . .

DeMatha also enjoyed a fine fall sports season. The Stags placed second in the Metro Conference in cross country, first in soccer with a 15-2-3 overall record, going 16 games without a loss at one point, and for the 11th straight season played for the football championship. DeMatha lost to Carroll, 9-3, in the game that decided the title.

Seven of the top 20 preseason girls basketball teams will participate in the eight-team IAABO invitational tournament at Prince George's Community College Dec. 26, 28 and 29. Last year's field included six teams that won at least 18 games.