Both Liberty and Westminster entered this season with the goal of winning a county title in girls basketball. Despite being tied for the county lead, however, that goal may already be out of reach for one of them.
Since the county determines its champion based on winning percentage, the fact that both stand at 4-1 heading into tonight's games could be irrelevant, because a quirk in the schedule has the Lions playing one more county game than the Owls.
If Liberty beats both South Carroll at home on Friday and North Carroll at home next Friday, the Lions (8-8 overall) would claim the county crown, no matter what the Owls (11-6) do next Friday when they play host to South Carroll.
The difference? Liberty opened its season with a victory over Francis Scott Key, a team played by every school in the county, except Westminster.
"The unfortunate thing about this is that having an extra game is totally unfair," Liberty coach Mike Boehme said. "It's been unfair to us in the past because we've always gotten beat by Francis Scott Key. I would be the first guy to stand up and vote and say that everybody needs to play the same amount of county games."
For the Lions, however, that would hardly diminish the importance of winning the title.
"It means everything to us," Boehme said. "We're not up to the level of the rest of the Frederick County teams [in the Central Maryland Conference], so our goals have been within the county."
Last Friday, Westminster avenged an earlier two-point loss to the Lions with a 56-30 win.
"One of our major goals has been to get the county championship," said Westminster's Emily Bollinger following the game. "Hopefully, we proved tonight who it really belongs to."
Once cut, Murray prevails
South Carroll's Zoe Murray had hoped for a prep career on the hardwood. Instead, she ended up as the county's top shot-putter.
Murray last week claimed the county championship in the event at Hagerstown Community College, throwing a personal-best 32 feet, 11 inches. The effort broke her previous best of 32-8.5, set the week earlier in winning a Central Maryland Conference title.
Not bad for someone who had her heart set on playing basketball entering high school.
"I planned on playing basketball ... but I was cut from the J.V. my freshman and sophomore years," said Murray. "As I look back on it now, it definitely was the best thing."
The senior first picked up the shot put as a ninth-grader, and quickly found she had a knack for the event, finishing third at that year's county outdoor meet. She has improved by over 10 feet since, and last year took fifth at the Class 3A-2A indoor meet.
Murray also throws the discus outdoors.
Other county winners were, on the boys' side, South Carroll's Greg Kennell (300) and Steve Grant (500) and 800 relay team; Westminster's Andy Hayes (800, 1600), Phil Serio (3200), Bryan Subock (shot put), Clint Stone (pole vault) and 3200 relay team; and Francis Scott Key's Ben Leiter (55), Adam Safley (55 hurdles), Matt Kutcher (high jump) and the 1600 relay team.
Among the girls, other winners were North Carroll's Katie Riley (55, 55 hurdles and 300), Cheryl Williams (1600, 3200), Aislinn Sowash (high jump), Lindsay Winter (pole vault) and the 800 relay team; Westminster's Johanna O'Connell (800) and the 3200 relay team; and Liberty's Laura Wilson (500) and the 1600 relay team.
At Key, basketball still fun
For most coaches, a 2-15 start might be troubling. To Francis Scott Key girls basketball coach Alice Rau, however, it's been a pleasure.
Despite last year's 17-9 record, the Eagles' veteran coach calls this season "much more enjoyable."
"Just because it's a losing team doesn't mean that it's not fun," Rau said. "The kids come out and they're fun to work with. They can get blown out in a game, and the next practice they'll still have a lot of energy. When you have a winning team and an older team, sometimes they don't care if they come out to work in practice. These kids come out and work hard every day."
The sophomore-dominated team includes three players who were on the freshman team a year ago, four up from J.V. and just three returning from the varsity. Heading into tonight's game at Brunswick, the Eagles have scored victories against only Boonsboro and South Hagerstown.
The record isn't a huge surprise, since Key graduated four-fifths of the starting lineup from its regional finalist team of a year ago. With so little experience, Rau said she's had to focus on the basics.
"We concentrate on just catching, dribbling, passing, cutting, understanding how to play defenses," Rau said. "We work on us, because there's no time to work on [game-planning for] someone else."
Liberty has football opening
The departure of long-time football coach Ken Johnson to Winters Mills has left a void at Liberty, where athletic director Joe Reiter and other school officials have formed a search committee to find a replacement.
Liberty is looking for candidates with varsity coaching experience and either a teaching degree or certificate. The committee would prefer that its new coach work at the school, if possible.
The committee is accepting resumes through Feb. 28. Those interested can contact Reiter at 410-751-3560, or fax cover letters and resumes to 410-751-3564.