Howard (6-5 county, 9-13 overall – No. 6 seed Section II 4A North Region)
Best Case: The hottest Howard County team over the final weeks of the regular season doesn’t slow down as the playoffs arrive. Jayden Cowan, who was the team’s leading scorer during six February games (11.8 ppg), turns out to be the piece that the Lions needed to step up in order to turn the corner. His emergence, to go along with Dequon Walker, Tanner Scaife and Elijah Perkins-Cross, provides just enough offense to compliment a defense that continues to be downright scary. Howard held each of its last four opponents to 49 points or less and that kind of effort continues on the way to earning road victories over Springbrook, Sherwood and Paint Branch. The dream ends with a loss against heavy favorite Perry Hall (20-2) in the region finals, but what ends up being a seven-game win streak before that is something the team won’t soon forget.