Arundel senior Jill Marano, Anne Arundel's Player of the Year in girls basketball last winter, has made a verbal commitment to play at Division I La Salle University in Philadelphia.
The first-team, All-Metro guard averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 steals as a junior last season to lead the Wildcats (25-2) to the Class 4A state title.
Fast to the basket as well as having good outside range, Marano shot 50.6 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line, coming up with the big play at either end in the Wildcats' championship run.
In the two state tournament games, she had 36 points, 17 assists and nine steals with a 15-point, eight-assist effort in a 61-55 win over Oxon Hill in the final.
"She's a gamer who likes to win," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers. "She makes good decisions and does whatever is needed to be done, whether she's passing the ball or scoring herself. Jill enjoys the game, and that shows with how hard she works and how much fun she has in practice."
Last year's county champions in soccer - the Chesapeake boys and Severna Park girls - have quickly established themselves as the teams to beat again this fall.
Which teams will present the biggest challenges is where it gets interesting. A look at the standings and some early results show a number of candidates possibly emerging on both sides.
Going into last night, the Chesapeake boys were 6-0 overall and 4-0 in county play - outscoring county opponents, 20-1.
From there, four teams South River, Severna Park, Glen Burnie and Arundel - all had 3-1 county records at the start of the week.
In recent years, it has been Chesapeake and Severna Park clearly above the rest, but South River's 2-1 win at Severna Park last week serves notice, while Glen Burnie is finding unexpected resources to add to an already-potent attack.
While standout midfielder Ronnie Smith was temporarily side-lined with a bruised kidney, the Gophers (5-1) have been led by sophomore Ryan McFarland (six goals) and junior Edwin Hernandez (five goals). With Smith back, scoring his first goal in a win against Southern, the Gophers are that much stronger.
"Right now, you look at Chesapeake as being the best - one through 18 they are very talented," said Glen Burnie coach John Camm. "I think South River, Severna Park and us are among the teams that can finish up near the top. And I think we can compete with Chesapeake."
The Gophers will get their chance next Thursday night when they travel to Chesapeake in a 7:15 start.
"There's a whole bunch of teams capable," said Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt. 'I've been very impressed with South River; I'm very leery of Glen Burnie because of their physical play, and I know Severna Park will be tough when they get their pieces together because they have the talent."
As for the girls, Severna Park and South River have had their share of one-goal games in recent years atop the county. Until last week.
The No. 3 Falcons boldly shut out South River, 5-0, to further separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Now, a young South River team will try to regroup while the likes of Broadneck, Arundel, Chesapeake and Old Mill continue to climb.
"They all play us hard, it doesn't matter what the records are. Teams always gauge themselves on what they do against us, and we always have to be ready,' said Severna Park coach Chuck Seivert.
Broadneck, coming off a 9-5 season, is looking to make a run with a 3-0 start going into last night's action. The Bruins are getting steady goal production from Stephanie Jones and Deis Colon - three goals each - and are working on solidifying their defense. Jen Gappart has made a smooth adjustment to stopper after playing center midfield last season, while Kim Rupp has been solid at sweeper.
"We're absolutely looking at getting into the county championship game as one of our goals," said Broadneck coach Jennifer Sweeney. "We were close last year, and it's in our sights now. But we're still plugging away at it one game at a time."