On a night when 12th-ranked North Carroll beat Liberty, 48-27, in a final tuneup for next week's regional 2A girls basketball tournament, the most significant event took place in the final minutes of the game at North Carroll.
In a rather emotional scene, Panthers coach Greg Knill gave each one of his four seniors a chance to take a bow in their final regular-season home game.
Knill took the seniors out of the game one by one in a stretch of 45 seconds, coming over to each as they reached the bench for a handshake and congratulations.
The exit by the seniors began with leading scorer Michele Jeffery and ended with star point guard Ashlee Douglas.
Defensive standout Francine Hewes followed Jeffery, and next came all-around standout Kara Tedder before Douglas ended the moment of recognition for the seniors.
However, Jeffery, Douglas and company will be back in action Thursday night at North Carroll as they host a regional 2A semifinal game.
The rejuvenated Panthers (17-5, 7-0 in the county) will meet the winner of Tuesday night's Glenelg-Southern of Garrett opening-round 2A regional game.
If North Carroll, second-seeded in the region, gets past the semifinals, it is almost certain the Panthers would have to travel to Middletown for a March 6 game against the top-seeded and unbeaten Knights.
Middletown will entertain the winner of Tuesday night's North Hagerstown-Fort Hill opening-round game next Thursday night.
Knill, whose team is 11-1 at home this season and 22-2 in the past two seasons, said he would love to see the Knights get knocked off so the Panthers could host the regional finals March 6.
"It would be great to have the finals right here at these friendly confines of North Carroll," Knill said with a smile. "I don't look forward to going to Middletown. They're a tough team and they eliminated us last year in the regional semis."
Knill said he would continue to use all 11 of his players for as far as the Panthers go in the playoffs.
"We've won 70 percent of our games doing it this way," he said. "So I'm not going to change now. I was pleased with the way we played tonight with the exception of our passing for a while in the first half. It took us some time to get into the flow. It was an emotional game for our seniors."
Douglas said it was a "great way" for the seniors to go out in their last regular-season game at home.
"I'm happy with the way we're playing," she said. "I think we're on a good roll. I love to play at home and hope we can do well here in the regionals."
While the streaking Panthers (four straight wins to end the regular season) are looking ahead to the playoffs, Liberty is through for the season after a dismal 0-7 finish for a final 7-15 record.
The Lions, 1-6 in the county, needed to win only two of its last seven games to make the regionals but could muster no success down the stretch.
Liberty coach Tom Delise said of the team's late-season fade after a 3-0 start: "This will never happen again. I know all the reasons why but they're not for print. Anyway, when you rely too much on one player [Amy Wolff] you're going to be in trouble when that player has a bad game."