The Francis Scott Key boys basketball team already has won as many games as it did all last season and has exceeded the number of county wins it had over the past two years.
For an encore, the Eagles will try to win another county game Friday night when North Carroll visits Uniontown. The junior varsity game starts at 5:30 p.m., with the varsity game following around 7 p.m.
Key was 1-21 overall a year ago and winless in county action the past two years. Yet the Eagles have a county victory over Liberty after starting the 1990-1991 season with a two-point loss to South Hagerstown, though Key took them into overtime.
Though thin on returning players -- only three return from last year's team -- Coach Jeff Cook's squad is employing a more up-tempo style of play this season that seems to be paying off.
In the 64-61 victory over Liberty Friday, senior guard Larry Haines scored 18, and sophomore backcourt mate Scott Kreit pitched in with 17 to pace the Eagles. Junior point guard Dave Layman added 10, as the guards accounted for 46 of Key's 64 points.
For North Carroll, the roster is dominated by guards -- nine of 13 players are listed in the backcourt. But the scoring in the Panthers' two season-opening victories has been spread all over the floor. Forwards Eric Nowicki and Dave Parsley were the leading scorers in Friday's 63-58 overtime victory against Hereford of Baltimore County, while 11 different players scored in last Wednesday's 62-55 victory over Catoctin of Frederick County.
In the Hereford game, North Carroll was down by five points with a minute left, but rallied to tie the game before pulling away in overtime.
In another important Friday contest, Westminster's game at Hammond of Howard County should indicate just how strong the Owls will be this year.
The Bears lost in last year's Class 2A state finals and have seven letter-winners back, including starters Kyle Jefferson (16 points and eight rebounds per game last year) and shooting guard Adam Walker.
Hammond has some height, too, with three players 6-foot-5 or taller.
Action at Hammond starts with a 5:30 jayvee game, followed by a 7 p.m.
Westminster's offense, to no one's surprise, has been lead by Herman Costley, who has scored 64 points in two games for the 1-1 Owls.
Sophomore Todd Dorsey has totaled 22 points thus far and senior Joe Cushen 17, but neither hit double figures in the Owls' 68-56 loss to Quince Orchard of Montgomery County in the season-opener. When Westminster topped Glenelg Friday, 80-67, Costley, Dorsey and Cushen all hit for double figures.
In other sports this weekend: * Most of the girls action this week is tomorrow, but Hammond visits Westminster Friday for a non-league game (5:30 junior varsity, 7 p.m.
* In college action, the Western Maryland men's team will have its hands full Saturday and Sunday at the Scranton (Pa.) University Invitational.
The Green Terrors open Saturday at 7 p.m. against Kean (N.J.) College -- not to be confused with Keene (N.H.) State College, the alma mater of WMC coach Nick Zoulias -- a preseason NCAA Division III top-20 team.
The host Royals play College Misericordia of Dallas, Pa., at 9 p.m. in the other first-round opener. Scranton, a perennial MAC title contender, was 4-2 after beating Messiah (Pa.) College, 61-35, Saturday. Messiah had earlier topped WMC, 80-69.
Western Maryland is coming off a last-second, two-point lost to Middle Atlantic Conference-Southwest rival Gettysburg and is 4-3. A win in either tournament game will allow the Green Terrors to equal last season's five wins.
The tournament concludes Sunday with a consolation game at 1 p.m. and the championship contest at 3.