Last week, Winters Mill completed what is believed to be the first undefeated regular season by a girls basketball team in Carroll County.
Now, as the No. 8 Falcons enter the Class 2A West playoffs, they have an even larger challenge.
Here's what the top-seeded Falcons (22-0) could be facing after their first-round bye:
• A regional quarterfinal game tomorrow against defending regional champion Walkersville, a team that it edged, 53-52, in December.
• A potential third meeting against the county's other girls basketball power, Century, in the semifinals on Wednesday. The Falcons defeated the Knights by 14 early in the season, but last month had to rally from a 10-point deficit to edge the Knights, 62-58. Those were Century's only two county losses.
• A possible regional championship game on Friday against No. 2-seed North Hagerstown, which finished the regular-season 20-2, allowing less than 40 points per game and winning by an average of 19.
"It's definitely not an easy draw for us," Winters Mill coach Bernie Koontz said. "Walkersville is probably the fifth-best team in the region, yet they end up as probably our first opponent. We have our work cut out for us."
The Falcons, however, also seem to be playing their best basketball of the season.
Consider, for instance, their season series against three teams -- Walkersville, Francis Scott Key and Westminster. Winters Mill struggled in each of its initial meetings with those teams, winning by a total of nine points.
But the second games in those series, all played since Jan. 31, have been blowouts, with the Falcons topping Walkersville, 71-54; Westminster, 55-30; and Key, 71-32. Then they closed out the regular season with a 15-point win over Linganore, champion of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Chesapeake Conference.
"People started recognizing that we were having a good season, and night in and night out we were getting their best games," Koontz said. "I think the kids responded, and have developed that competitive edge to be able to do the things it takes at the end of the game to pull through."
Winters Mill also holds the highest county seed among the boys, at No. 2 in Class 2A West.
The Falcons will start with a first-round bye before a potential second-round rematch against county rival Liberty on Tuesday. The Lions were scheduled to face North Hagerstown this weekend.
In January, the Falcons (16-6) edged Liberty, 60-58, before dominating in their February rematch.
"I've never since the region like this -- it's just very wide open," Winters Mill coach Dave Herman said. "There's just a lot of teams that can win it."
Much like their female counterparts, the Winters Mill boys also seem to be playing their best ball of the season. They enter the playoffs riding a seven-game winning streak, winning those games by an average of 25 points.
Their top player, 6-foot-5 guard Cammeron Woodyard (20.5 points per game), last week became the first county player since 2002 South Carroll graduate Josh Boone (Connecticut) to orally commit to a major Division I program when he accepted an offer from Penn State.
"We kind of said at the beginning of the year that maybe we'd be playing better basketball in January and February than we were at the beginning, just because we had so many new pieces," Herman said. "We'll see. If we can just stay healthy and keep going ..."
Century also drew a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed in Class 2A West, as did North Carroll, the No. 3 seed in Class 4A North.
Tyler Mullen, South Carroll's 171-pound senior who last weekend claimed his fourth straight county title while breaking the county's career wins record, is one of two local wrestlers ranked No. 2 in his class this week by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
Mullen, who had 136 career wins entering this weekend's regional meet, joined teammate Cam Hobin, who also is ranked No. 2 at 119 pounds after claiming a county title, as well.
Two other county champions, South Carroll's Zac Stavish (160 pounds) and North Carroll's Jason Thomen (215), were ranked sixth and third, respectively, while Winters Mill's Gus Mohlhenrich (135) was listed as an honorable mention.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net.
Undefeated Winters Mill hopes to extend unprecedented season
Top-seeded Falcons face tough road in girls basketball playoffs
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