By this time next week, the county boys and girls basketball title pictures should be clearer.
Several important boys and girls games scheduled for today, Friday and Tuesday also should have an impact on Central Maryland Conference standings.
The most important girls game is tonight's Liberty at NorthCarroll contest, while the key boys game features South Carroll at Westminster, also tonight.
North Carroll, the preseason girlsfavorite, has already beaten Westminster, the team that many thoughtwould give it the best challenge for the county title. Liberty has been the season's surprise with an 8-5 record, after winning just three games last season.
The matchup under the basket between North Carroll senior Lisa Garland and Liberty junior Kelly Foreman should be a dandy.
Garland is tops in the county in rebounding (10.8 average), second in scoring (15.6 average), steals (4.3) and blocks (1.0) and third in assists (2.8). Foreman is tops in scoring (16.5) andblocks (1.4) and second in rebounding (10.4).
Both girls squads are 1-0 in the limited early-season county schedule. The winnerwill have the inside track to the county title, though Westminster should figure in the race, too.
Tonight's action starts with a junior varsity game at 5:30, followed by the varsity game about 7.
Also tonight, Westminster visits South Carroll (5:30 and 7).On Friday, Liberty visits South Carroll, and North Carroll is at Westminster (both 5:30 and 7 p.m.), while Francis Scott Key visits NorthHagerstown for a Monocacy Valley Athletic League contest at 6 and 7:30.
North Carroll and Liberty also can climb into the Central Maryland Conference race over the next few days. Liberty stunned Thomas Johnson, previously unbeaten in CMC play, on Friday, meaning four teams in the loop have one loss -- including the Panthers and Lions.
The South Carroll and Westminster boys find themselves in much the same situation as the Liberty and North Carroll girls -- looking to make some noise in both the county and CMC races this week.
South Carroll topped Frederick Friday night, leaving Westminster as the only unbeaten team in CMC play heading into this week's schedule. Frederick, Thomas Johnson and South Carroll all have one league loss.
Tonight's South Carroll-Westminster game (5:30 and 7) features the county's top scorer against the balanced Cavs squad.
Westminster senior swingman Herman Costley averages 28.5 points per game, tops in the county and nearly twice that of the second-best county scorer.
South Carroll counters with three top scorers who average about 10 points each -- or just a bit more than Costley scores by himself. Senior forward George Dick is averaging 11.1 per game, senior guard Jamie Harrich is scoring 10 per game (along with nearly 4 steals per contest) and junior forward Mike Downs is scoring at a 9.9 clip (to go with 7.2 rebounds and nearly one block per game).
Another key player for the Cavaliers is senior guard Bryan Baker, who's averaging 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals per contest.
The other boys game today features North Carroll at Liberty at 5:30 and 7 p.m. On Friday, surging Key entertains North Hagerstown,South Carroll visits Liberty and North Carroll plays host to Westminster (all 5:30 and 7 p.m.).
On Tuesday's card, North Carrollplays at South Carroll at 5:30 and 7 p.m.
In other sports this weekend:
* Westminster's wrestling team will have a tough row to hoe Saturday at the Gilman Duals in Baltimore, which featuresome of the best teams in the mid-Atlantic region. The Owls start Saturday morning at 11 against perennial Delaware power St. Mark's. Westminster will meet either Gilman or Aberdeen of Harford County, two of Maryland's top squads, in the second round of the eight-team event.
* Tomorrow night, South Carroll travels to Westminster for a dual meet (5:30 and 7). Westminster appears headed for second placein the county in dual-meet action, while South Carroll is strugglingto place fourth this year.
The top bout on the card likely will be in the night's first match, as South Carroll's Jeff Irvine (14-4 with a county-high 13 pins) meets Westminster's Tom Brown (8-2).
* The Western Maryland men's basketball team already has wonmore games this year than it did all last season, and the Terrors are hoping to make an impact on the Middle Atlantic Conference Southwest Section standings.
The Terrors (7-6 overall and 2-3 in thesection) start a string of three consecutive section games with an 8p.m. contest tonight at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. On Saturday, Muhlenberg (Pa.) College visits for an 8 p.m. contest, and WMC visits Lebanon Valley in Anneville, Pa., Tuesday night at 8.