1. Arundel (last season's rank -- 1): Despite graduating Player of the Year Chavonne Hammond, the defending Class 4A state champion Wildcats have more depth than anyone in the area.
2. St. Mary's (3): Three talented sophomores return for the defending Catholic League champions.
3. Hammond (4): The Golden Bears are looking for a record-breaking sixth straight appearance in the Class 2A state championship game.
4. Mercy (11): The entire starting lineup returns for one of last season's most-improved teams.
5. Seton Keough (2): The Gators' solid fundamentals and tenacious defense will keep them in the thick of the Catholic League race.
6. McDonogh (5): All-Metro sophomore Vicki Brick returns for the defending Association of Independent Schools A Division champion.
7. Annapolis (9): With a trio of talented 6-footers, it could be a big year for the Panthers.
8. Wilde Lake (12): Three starters return for the defending Howard County champions.
9. Centennial (15): One of the area's better defensive teams has nine players back and a strong bench.
10. Western (not ranked): Not the powerhouse they once were, the Doves are still Baltimore's best.
11. John Carroll (NR): The improved Patriots are a team to watch in the Catholic League.
12. Milford Mill (20): The Millers have all the assets to win a second straight Baltimore County championship.
13. Perry Hall (19): The top two players are back from last season's Class 4A state semifinalist.
14. Howard (16): The Lions have a solid starting five, but a lack of depth could be a problem.
15. C.M. Wright (6): Three returning 6-footers make the Mustangs the team to beat in Harford County.
16. Broadneck (NR): Eight players return from '95-'96's Class 3A regional finalist.
17. Meade (NR): The rapidly-improving Mustangs could be a factor in Anne Arundel County.
18. Towson (NR): Nearly everyone returns from the team that upset Milford Mill in the Class 2A region semifinals last season.
19. Westminster (NR): Led by two-time All-County performer Jill Ibex, the Owls get the nod as Carroll County's top team.
20. Severna Park (10): An outstanding freshmen class is combined with eight returning seniors.
Pub Date: 12/04/96