Boys Basketball Preview: With handful of top scorers back, offense 'should be fun to watch' in Carroll County

Boys Basketball Preview: With handful of top scorers back, offense 'should be fun to watch' in Carroll County
Century's Carter Truby drives past Liberty's Connor Stewart during the second half of their game in Eldersburg Monday, Feb 26, 2018. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Defense tends to be sharper at the start of each basketball season, with teams jelling to prevent points before figuring out who can put the ball through the hoop with some consistency.

This year’s Carroll County Athletic League’s boys basketball squads might be in position to reverse the trend.


When the 2018-19 season tips off Thursday, six of the CCAL’s top 12 scorers from a year ago will be back to help jump-start their respective offenses.

“I’m expecting a lot of guys in the county to have really good years based on that experience,” said Century coach George Wunder. “I feel like there are a lot of returning players throughout the county … to make an impact in the game. It should be fun to watch.”

The Knights have one of those top returning scorers in guard Carter Truby, who averaged 13.7 points per game last season. Truby came up from junior varsity at the end of the 2016-17 season, and was part of Century’s run to the Class 2A state final. He became a more integral part of the lineup last year, and now he’s entering his senior year as Century’s go-to player on offense.

“Any time you can bring guys back that have kind of ‘been there, done that,’ it just adds that experience,” Wunder said. “They’ve been in the big games. They kind of figure out how to score. I’ve seen kids, not just Century kids, but just kids over the years, just expand their game. It’s huge for the team just to have that leadership and experience for that following year.”

Liberty boasts one of those veterans in senior forward Tristan Kent, the reigning Times Player of the Year. Kent averaged 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds last season in leading the Lions to a 20 wins and their first outright county championship in 35 years. Kent finished third in the county in scoring last winter.

Right behind him in scoring was Winters Mill guard Chandler Gentzel at 15.3 points per game. Gentzel is back for his junior year as the Falcons’ point player on offense.

Francis Scott Key lost first-team all-county guard Amir Cole (19.2 ppg, second in Carroll) to graduation, but bring back forward Noah Vipond. The senior scored 13.7 points and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game in 2017-18.

Westminster boasts senior guard Drue Giles, who averaged 13.3 points and made 77 percent of his free throws en route to a first-team all-county nod last winter.

Westminster coach Brett Kanther huddles with players during the second half of their game in Westminster Friday, Jan 5, 2018.
Westminster coach Brett Kanther huddles with players during the second half of their game in Westminster Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

South Carroll, runner-up in the CCAL standings last season, lost a first-team all-county backcourt player in the graduated Cody Parks (12.8 ppg), but the Cavaliers turn to senior guard Dylan Graham (12.1) this year.

Kent and Giles are the lone returners from last season’s Times all-county first team. Carroll is also without its leading scorer from last season in former Manchester Valley standout guard Bo Schene 21.3 ppg, 1,184 career points).

Offense isn’t the only key to success, of course, but coaches and players agree it sure helps bring a team together. Particularly in December, when non-county foes give squads a chance to find out what works best for their lineups.

“It’s nice just to be a leader for our guys,” said Gentzel, who led Carroll last year in 3-point shooting at 40.7 percent (44-for-108). “We’re really young. It’s nice to be able to score when the team needs it.”

Gentzel said he took part in summer camps and worked on his form and technique throughout the offseason in order to be sharp at the start of the year. Establishing rhythm on offense can be critical early on, and it bodes well for the remainder of the season.

Anyone who contributed a lot last year should be considered ones to watch in 2018-19, Wunder said.


“We were fortunate to have some players in the past few years, like Zach Tucker and Kevin Steadman, who had good junior years, kind of like Carter had, and really just took it to a different level in their senior year,” the Century coach said. “Offense typically, at the start of the season, is a little bit slower. The better defensive teams typically do well early on. But I think with a lot of guys with experience coming back on the offensive end of the floor, I see that happening quicker.

“It’s something hopefully we can take advantage of too.”