The Atholton boys basketball team likes a quick tempo and can pile up points with three standout players averaging 14 points per game or better.
River Hill counts on stingy defense and prefers a slower pace in its methodical, Princeton-style half-court offense.
The two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack - both entered the week with 12-2 overall records and 9-1 league marks - and something has to give Friday night when the Atholton Raiders host the Hawks of River Hill at 7 o'clock.
"It's a big game in the county from a standpoint of, who is the best team in the county right now?" River Hill coach Matt Graves said. "They're a good team. Jim Albert does a great job coaching them, and they have a lot of talent and ability. We're going to have to play a smart game and play together to win it."
River Hill senior Tommy Brenton averages a double double with 20.7 points and 10.6 rebounds, with Dan Hostetler and Mike Campanaro also playing big roles.
At 67 points a game this season, the Raiders have received fine inside play from Torey Fassett (19.1 points, 8.4 rebounds) and Sam Permutt (14.4, 7.6) to go with sharp-shooting guard Steve Lombardozzi Jr. (14.2 points). All three are seniors returning from last year's team that reached the regional finals.
"A quick tempo is to our advantage, and we'll probably press them and try to get up and down the court," Albert said.
The Raiders are undefeated at home, with their two road losses coming in the closing seconds. They lost to Cardinal Gibbons on a basket with 10 seconds left and saw defending county champion Long Reach hit a three-pointer with four seconds left of a tie game early in the season.
River Hill went into the week 6-0 on the road but knows the going will be tough playing at Atholton on a Friday night. In three seasons under Graves playing the Princeton-style offense, the Hawks have gone from 4-19 in 2004-2005 to 12-6 last season to this year's 12-2 start.
"It's a going to be like a game of chess with a bunch of talent and a bunch of ability on both sides," Graves said. "What we can do defensively will play into what we do offensively. We don't want to get into an up-and-down game. If we can keep it in the 40s and 50s, it will favor us."
If Mike O'Leary never wrestles another varsity match, the 140-pound Glenelg sophomore earned his varsity letter in Saturday's 36-21 dual-meet victory at Frederick County's Walkersville (15-2).
Called up from the junior varsity for the second time this season, O'Leary's 4-2 victory over Mike Athey mathematically clinched the match win, 30-21, with one bout left as the No. 7 Gladiators moved to 10-0 for what is believed to be the first time in school history.
Glenelg also received pins from Gary Keister (145), Tim Chase (160) and Syd Boesche (189); decisions from Brenden Conway (112), Chris Stinnett (130) and state runner-up Danny Bichner (135); and a forfeit to Zach Gerber (103).
Glenelg will meet Howard County and four-time defending 2A-1A state duals champion Hammond on Feb. 1.
Sun reporter Lem Satterfield contributed to this article.