If Montgomery County's 2004 football season was stellar, the basketball season that followed was, well, strange.

Perennial power Magruder finished 12-12 and out of The Post's Top 20 for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

Teams in the 4A West Division took a stand against teams from the 4A East Division.

And perhaps the biggest shock: Keith Adams, who compiled a 54-22 record at Springbrook and led the Blue Devils to the Maryland 4A final in 2004, was fired after a 12-12 campaign.

But there also were some great stories during the 2004-05 season. Whitman, Wheaton, Churchill and Wootton, teams that had, for the most part, set up residence in the cellars of divisions, all had breakout seasons and were considered contenders. And Watkins Mill, behind standout senior guards Justin Carter and Gene Davis, stormed to the Montgomery County 4A West Division crown and the region final.

But two teams stole the spotlight -- Blake and Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

Blake won the Montgomery 4A East Division crown and then the Maryland 4A West Region title. The Bengals knocked off highly regarded Largo of Prince George's County in the state semifinals before losing to Walbrook, the top-ranked team in Baltimore, in the final.

The Bengals, with the all-senior starting five of Kelvin Bright, Jermaine Cooper, Brandon Driver, Kevan Creppy and Dominique Scott, thrived on balanced scoring and in-your-face defense. Their success continued an astounding rise by the program under Coach Damon Pigrom.

In 1999-2000, the first year Blake had a varsity program, the Bengals went 0-22. But during the last three years, Blake has won 64 of 76 games and two region titles.

"When we were 0-22, I would never have imagined that we would be here," Pigrom said in the Comcast Center media room following his team's state final loss. "If somebody said, 'You'll be playing at Comcast,' I would have said, 'What are you smoking?' Seriously, that's how far-fetched it seemed."

In addition, B-CC overcame adversity to win the school's first basketball region title and reach the state final for the first time since 1984.

The Barons had a talented group of seniors who had played varsity since they were sophomores -- Christian Hernandez, Carl Buck and brothers Kyle and Ryan McBurney. But Steve Thompson, who took over as head coach, was their third coach in three years.

There were bumps immediately, as B-CC got off to a disappointing 8-7 start. But the Barons quickly came together and rode an 11-game winning streak into the state final. There they lost in the most heart-breaking of fashions -- on a controversial shot at the buzzer.

It stung. But what the Barons had accomplished in 2004-05 was still remarkable.

"Our players have just been super," Thompson said after the state final loss. "They've worked hard. There hasn't been a game we've played in all year where we didn't go hard the whole time. It's been a great ride."

Blake's Dominique Scott, left, celebrates with teammate Chad Sanders after the Bengals won the 4A West Region championship against Watkins Mill.