It seems like just last week that I was sending out emails to coaches asking for their winter sports preview information, and now, as I sit writing this, I have exactly one team left in contention, the Patterson Mill boys basketball squad, which was slated to play in the 2A East regional semifinals on Thursday. If they win, I've still got things to write about, and if they lose, I'll be sending out emails to the spring coaches, bugging them for preview information. Since the 2011-12 campaign is so close to being done for me, here are some observations (or facts, or thoughts, whatever you want to call them), on what I've seen since November.
Boys basketball out early: I know I have pointed it out before, but boys basketball, which I've been writing about since 2007-08, my first winter at The Aegis, is the only sport on my coverage list that has failed to put a team in the state semifinals during my tenure. Aberdeen came closest in 2007-08 and the following season, when the Eagles, who during that time were probably the best UCBAC team I've seen, made it to the regional finals both years, but were beaten by Wilde Lake first, then Atholton. But, despite boys basketball's relative lack of success in the MPSSAA tournaments, I was stunned on Tuesday night, when the field went from six teams down to one, Patterson Mill, during the second round of regional play. Edgewood lost to Elkton (didn't see that coming), Aberdeen lost to Milford Mill (same team that knocked them out in the second round two years ago), C. Milton Wright lost to Woodlawn (I knew zero about Woodlawn, and CMW is too funny a team to predict), Havre de Grace lost to Overlea (sorry Warriors, but I was not expecting a long playoff run) and Patterson Mills stayed alive with a comeback win over Harford Tech. So, now we're at the regional semifinals and everyone but the Huskies is gone; I feel kind of empty. The game will have been played by the time this is published, but Huskies, beat Elkton so I've still got a horse left in the race next week.
Swimming dominance: Where boys basketball has not produced a regional champion during my time at The Aegis, the swim teams in Harford County have been super successful, with local squads winning overall state titles in four of the five years that I've covered swimming. The Fallston boys took Maryland crowns in 2008, 2009 and 2011 (they also won the first MPSSAA 1A/2A/3A state meet in 2007, the year before I got hired), while the C. Milton Wright girls team picked up its first title on Saturday at the 1A/2A/3A meet. That puts swimming right up their with field hockey in terms of producing championship teams.
Speaking of swimming champions, Harford Tech's Brandon Carestia won two more state titles on Saturday at the 1A/2A/3A boys meet, taking first in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke. Those victories brought his individual gold medal count to four, which ties him with Fallston's Jack Gottschalk, who won four individual titles during the 2007 and 2008 state meets (Interesting side note: Gottschalk took gold in the 50-yard freestyle twice, and the 500-yard freestyle once, which is odd to me, because it seems that swimmers usually specialize in one or the other). For Carestia, a senior, it was his final meet as a high school swimmer, and he went out on top. I'm sure he'll have a successful college career.
Tune back in next week, as I'll have some more observations for you.