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South Carroll and Winters Mill have played close contests with each other in recent years, and Thursday’s Carroll County Athletic League matchup was no different.

The Falcons maintained a lead over the Cavaliers through the majority of the game, until eight straight points from SC junior guard Grace Oetken helped the team push ahead by three, 28-25, early in the fourth quarter.

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The Cavs never looked back, despite a few late free throws from Winters Mill, and defeated the Falcons 32-28 to capture their first win of the season.

“We came off the Christmas tournament trying to do a couple of new things offensively and defensively because we hadn’t won a game so far,” Cavs coach Jim Shea said. “We were trying to put some new things in, a new offense, a little bit of a new defense, maybe try a couple of new girls."

Shea referenced South Carroll’s history with the Falcons, complete with a history of last-second shots and nail-biting playoff wins.

“It was nice to get off the losing streak and get the win tonight because we have another one right back tomorrow,” Shea said.

South Carroll's Sydney Hill, left, tries to put up a shot with Winters Mill's Sophia Barnes defending on the play during a girls basketball game at Winters Mill High School on Thursday, Jan. 2.
South Carroll's Sydney Hill, left, tries to put up a shot with Winters Mill's Sophia Barnes defending on the play during a girls basketball game at Winters Mill High School on Thursday, Jan. 2. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Oetken led the Cavaliers (1-7, 1-1 CCAL) with 10 points and she scored five in the fourth quarter.

Winters Mill junior Madison Harmening scored five straight points to help the Falcons pick up a 7-3 lead over the Cavaliers in the first quarter. SC freshman guard Shannon McTavish’s three-point play brought the Cavs within two, and she swatted Veronica Paylor’s attack to get the ball back in the Cavs’ favor.

Oetken sank a pair of free throws to give SC an 8-7 lead, but a 3-pointer from Harmening put the Falcons ahead 10-8 to close out the quarter.

WM junior Chelsey Acha sank a 3 with 3:57 to play in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 16-12 lead and another 3 from Allie Cullison made it 19-14 before the Cavs trimmed the deficit 19-17 at the break.

The Falcons led 21-17 in the third when SC’s Paige Abbott scored to make it 21-19. The Falcons called a timeout after a pair of free throws from WM junior Sophia Barnes and they held on to take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter despite a three-point play from Oetken.

“It’s a lot of practice,” Oetken said.

“She’s a hard worker, she works hard every day at practice,” Shea added. “She earned her minutes, got her minutes and got those shots.”

The Falcons got free throws from Barnes and Tay McDonald at the end of the fourth quarter to close out the game, but the Cavaliers left victorious. SC recently dropped games against Herndon and Walter Johnson in the Ron Engle Classic at Middletown on Dec. 27 and 28.

The Cavaliers also have one county loss against Manchester Valley from Dec. 17, and they travel to Bel Air on Friday.

The Falcons (2-6, 1-2) dropped their fourth straight game this winter after winning two straight against Century and Northeast. Harmening led the team with eight points and Barnes scored six in the loss.

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“I think we have a lot of good athletes, a lot of people that do something different,” Falcons coach Dave Wynne said. “We’re trying to feel out what kind of role everyone is going to fit into to make this a good team. We graduated all five of our starters from last year so this is a senior-less team, so it’s a situation where we’re trying to feel each other out and figure out the roles everybody is going to play.

“The sooner we’re able to figure that out, the more successful we’ll be.”

South Carroll (32): Sydni Carroll 2, Lauren Habighorst 3, Paige Abbott 2, Shannon McTavish 3, Grace Oetken 10, Sarah Vaught 8, Rachel Tackett 4.

Winters Mill (28): Madison Harmening 8, Allie Cullison 5, Cassidy Knill 2, Sophia Barnes 6, Chelsey Acha 3, Tay McDonald 4.

Halftime: WM, 19-17.

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