Team to beat: Wootton. Even though they have never won a region title, it's hard to go against the Patriots, who entered the week having won 13 straight since Dec. 29. They are the county's deepest team, with nine players scoring in double figures at least once this season.
What to watch for: When Whitman is on, the Vikings are tough, but their past three losses have each been by at least 15 points. . . . Churchill, Northwest and Walter Johnson each had losing streaks of at least three games earlier this month. With those slumps over, each is capable of pulling an upset, behind their respective stars, Carole Dempsey, Deven Green and Alex Chili.
Team to beat: Springbrook. Winners of two straight region titles, the Blue Devils have mastered the key to playoff success -- defense. They have allowed only three of their last 17 opponents to surpass 40 points.
What to watch for: Two of Blake's five losses were to Springbrook, which the Bengals wouldn't have to play until the region final. . . . Undefeated Dulaney, which features 6-foot-2 junior Danielle Parker (16 ppg, 13 rpg), last won a region title in 1988.
Team to beat:Paint Branch. State finalists in 2004 and '05, the Panthers lost their first two games -- to Damascus and Springbrook -- and have since won 17 of 18, along the way avenging their other defeat to B-CC.
What to watch for: Bethesda-Chevy Chase has never won a region title, and the Barons have home-court advantage throughout, in addition to the county's leading scorer, Nalini Hawkins. . . . After starting the season 1-5, Urbana, the defending region champion, won 13 of 14.
Team to beat: Walkersville -- nobody has yet. The Lions are the area's lone undefeated team, seeking their first region title since state final appearances in 2003 and '04.
What to watch for: Rockville's Mary Gorman has scored in double figures in four of her past six games. The Rams open against Liberty, which they beat last year in the first round. . . . Clarksburg had a three-game winning streak earlier this month, and has had some breakout games from Turquoia Johnson, Tia Johnson and Nicole Cunningham. Page Harris has remained its most consistent scorer.
Team to beat: Dunbar of Baltimore. The winner of four straight state championships from 2000 to '03, the Poets haven't won a region title since.
What to watch for: Poolesville lost to Dunbar in last year's region semifinal, and in the 1A West final the two previous seasons. Junior guard Rachel Stream scored a career-high 24 points Feb. 9 against Seneca Valley, Poolesville's ninth victory in 11 games.
Team to beat:Bishop McNamara, which had won 10 of its last 11 in the league entering this week. The Mustangs also beat No. 3 Edison in a holiday tournament and lost at No. 1 Notre Dame by seven.
Watch out for: Two-time defending champion Good Counsel, slumping Holy Cross and resurgent St. John's. After sputtering early, Good Counsel won 12 of 13 league games entering this week, the only loss during that time being by three points to McNamara. Holy Cross lost late in the season to McNamara, Good Counsel and St. John's, three teams the Tartans beat during a 12-0 run to open league play. But the return of guard-forward Monica McNutt (Georgetown) should help. St. John's had won nine straight until a loss to Good Counsel on Saturday.
-- ALAN GOLDENBACH, JOSH BARR
and PRESTON WILLIAMS