Being one of only two boys basketball games taking place across the state Wednesday evening wasn’t lost on players and coaches from Century and Liberty.
It might not have had the usual feel of their crosstown rivalry, with people sitting shoulder to shoulder on each set of bleachers inside the gymnasium, focused on every possession. But the Knights and Lions got together for the latest edition of their all-time series, with Century taking this one 56-49 in the season opener.
The reigning Carroll County Athletic League champions beat Liberty twice last winter during the regular season, but the Lions came out on top in their playoff matchup to win the Class 2A West Region 1 title and snuff Century’s 20-win season. The Knights failed to hit 40 points in their postseason defeat. On Wednesday, they used a 23-point second quarter to establish a comfortable lead.
“It felt great, just getting the opportunity to play when ... most of Maryland isn’t really playing,” said Colby Owings, a senior guard who scored a game-high 18 for Century. “It just felt great being with my teammates again, I love being out here.”
Owings had seven points in the second half, including a 3-pointer he banked in from the wing with the shot clock about to expire and 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining. Liberty got to within 51-43 before Owings caromed in his trey, which hurt the home team.
Century needed the offensive lift in the fourth quarter since senior guard Noah Riley, a first-team all-county pick from 2020, fouled out with a little more than 5 minutes to play. Riley, who averaged 17 points per game last season, finished with 13 on Wednesday. But Owings and sophomore guard Andrew Marcinko (11 points) kept the Knights going.
“Really proud of some of the guys coming off the bench,” said Century coach George Wunder. “And Colby and those guys did their thing, they hit some big shots and they handled the ball.”
Junior forward John Pavlick grabbed eight rebounds for Century, and Owings added five. Riley handed out two assists.
Shane Stewart, a junior guard who earned first-team all-county honors last season, led Liberty with 13 points while senior forward Jayden Adams netted 10. The Lions were outscored 23-12 in the second quarter but didn’t cave against their rivals.
Coach Brian Tombs said Adams, Stewart, and senior guard Justin Sheetz (4 points) are all coming off injuries to start the season. And Adams dealt with an abdominal issue during the game, Tombs said, and missed a lot of the second half.
“I thought we were a little impatient offensively for most of the second and third quarter, and against a team like Century that plays defense the way they do, you have to be patient,” Tombs said.
Both coaches said it was good to face competition for the first time, and without a lot of preparation they considered Wednesday’s contest as somewhat of a scrimmage. And they came away with plenty to work on going forward.
“You take what you can get. From our standpoint, it’s just ... we’re happy to be out here,” Tombs said. “I’ve got 10 guys. Get them in, get them some action. Let them have some fun in this situation.”
Century (56): Andrew Marcinko 11, Noah Riley 13, Colby Owings 18, Brent Wehland 2, George Berbakos 2, Jimmy Rogers 1, John Pavlick 9.
Liberty (49): Shane Stewart 13, Justin Sheetz 4, Elias Rimel 3, Sam Allen 8, Steven Talbot 7, Eren Tari 4, Jayden Adams 10.