Commentary: All-County photos, tight games, swimmers with tough names

It's been a little bit, but I'm back from my normal, week-after-Thanksgiving vacation, which I wind up taking every year because I never plan a proper trip, and I need to cash in my annual leave before sports editor Randy McRoberts takes his end-of-the-year time off.

My time off was very exciting: I spent it doing homework and handing in final papers. Now that I've returned though, here's another installment of "fun with numbers," where I take some interesting facts and figures from the past few weeks in Harford sports. Enjoy:

30 and 17: That would be the time window (3 to 3:30 p.m.) I gave the members of the All-Harford Boys Soccer First Team members to come in and be photographed at The Aegis on Monday, and the number of players who showed up that day, meaning the entire team came in during one half-hour stretch. In my five-and-a-half years at The Aegis, having picked something like 50 All-Harford teams, I don't think that's ever happened, especially with a group of more than 10 players. Normally, if I give the players and coaches four or five days notice, 80 percent of the team will show up for the first photo shoot, and the rest will have other engagements, or be out of school sick that day, or there will have been some form of communication breakdown and they just don't make it.

I expect that to happen, and I'm fine with it. You just send out emails and have the remaining players come in on another day. So, when 16 of the boys soccer first-team members showed up Monday within 25 minutes of each other, I was a bit taken aback. As the 30-minute time window was about to close, and needing just one more player's photo, Bel Air's Carson Kalama walked through the door exactly at 3:30 p.m., had his picture snapped by photo editor Matt Button, and we were done. Seventeen players in 30 minutes. Thank you very much, boys soccer players.

Nine: This number might be off by a few, but by my count, that would be the amount of boys basketball games involving Harford County UCBAC teams that have been decided, thus far, by five points or less. I don't know if things will remain that tense for the remainder of the campaign, but that we're just a bit over a week into the season and we've nearly had 10 games contested that closely is very exciting. To review, on Wednesday Bel Air beat Patterson Mill, 51-48, C. Milton Wright topped Towson, 53-48, and Joppatowne knocked off Fallston, 57-54. North Harford beat Havre de Grace, 63-59, on Tuesday. Patterson Mill was edged, 59-56, by Western Tech on Monday. Harford Tech lost to Overlea, 50-48, last Friday, Havre de Grace got past Fallston, 50-46, on Dec. 6, and CMW opened the season on Dec. 5 with a 48-46 win over Havre de Grace. If you keep it up like this, fellas, come playoff time you're going to have every basketball fan in the county foaming at the mouth.

Seven: That would be the number of times I've misspelled the name of Bel Air freshman, Briana Karayinopulos, who won the girls 50-yard freestyle at the Bobcats' Thursday, Dec. 6, tri-meet with Aberdeen and Edgewood. Ms. Karayinopulos now takes the title of "swimmer with the hardest name to spell," which I hand out every year, as Harford County's swimming teams are, without fail, home to last names that turn my fingers into pretzels on the keyboard. I remember the C. Milton Wright swim squad having a load of athletes who had names with "czsz" or "cszs," and those always messed me up. Try typing a name like that when you're working on deadline with a laptop balanced on your knee, in your car.

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