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Winter Sports Previews: 3 things to watch for boys basketball

Winter is here, and Carroll County Athletic League’s boys basketball teams are back on the hardwood. Here are three things to watch for this winter for the 2019-20 season.

A change of scenery on offense

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Chandler Gentzel led Carroll County in scoring last season at 19.6 points per game with Winters Mill High School, but the shooting guard transferred to Westminster for his senior year. Gentzel earned first-team all-county honors last winter and also topped county players in free-throw percentage (82.1, 110-for-134).

He’s going to a new team with some former teammates, too — junior center Alan Jean Joseph (8.2 points, 6.1 rebounds per game last year) and senior forward Nico Graham are also ex-Falcons on the Owls’ roster.

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The additions could help Westminster contend for a county championship that was shared by Century and Liberty last winter. The Knights and Lions each won 20 games in 2018-19 and posted 11-1 county records.

Gentzel is the lone returning player from last season’s Times all-county first team.

“Commitment to the defensive end of the floor and ability to execute under pressure will be keys to a nice season,” Owls coach Brett Kanther said via email about his team.

A new schedule, and challenges, for Gerstell

The Falcons, winners of the last two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic League B Conference titles, ascended to the A Conference starting this season. Gerstell went 21-12 last year, led by its all-time leading scorer in senior guard Anthony Carpenter (1,318 career points). But Carpenter and fellow four-year starter Tyler Tillery graduated in the spring.

Carroll County Times team-by-team boys basketball preview capsules for the 2018-19 season.

The MIAA A Conference features tougher competition with the likes of Calvert Hall, Gilman, John Carroll, Mount St. Joseph, and St. Frances. The Falcons were 2-5 going into their game last Friday against Friends School. St. Frances is the reigning MIAA A champs, and John Carroll won the title the previous year.

“The biggest challenge with this young group is how we deal with adversity each night, knowing that it's going to be a growing process for all of us and that we are in arguably the strongest conference in the area,” Gerstell coach Ben Thompson said via email.

Fresh faces everywhere

The Times had eight players on its all-county first team last winter, seven of which were seniors. That means a chance to see new names emerge as top players, and others who contributed last year to step into bigger roles.

Liberty returns forward Peyton Scheufele, a 6-foot-4 senior who averaged 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds last season. The co-county champs also bring back senior guard Connor Stewart (10.1 points, 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals per game).

Century senior guard Justin Wunder led the county in 3-point shooting last year (49.6 percent, 58-for-117). Wunder had 20 points in the Knights’ season opener last Thursday, a win over Owings Mills.

Century fell to Oakdale in the Class 2A West Region Section 1 title game.

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Francis Scott Key’s roster includes six sophomores, led by 6-4 forward Ryan Rill (7.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg). The Eagles had three sophomores in their starting lineup last season, and FSK played in a sectional final.

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