Jim Shea and his South Carroll girls basketball players might look back on this season as a turning point in the program.
The Cavaliers collected six wins last season, five of which came against Carroll County Athletic League foes. South Carroll won 10 games in Shea’s first year but stumbled in their second campaign together. Shea wanted to see improvement in 2021, despite the challenges being faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of five contributors from the previous squad.
Three games into the new year, SC is halfway to matching its win total from a season ago.
The Cavs displayed balance Monday night in dispatching Winters Mill 56-38, with Shea able to play much of his 11-player roster in the victory.
Sophomore guard Shannon McTavish led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four steals, while senior Bethany Fowler added 12 points and Sarah Vaught, another senior netted 11 points and grabbed six boards. Olivia Reardon, also a senior, pitched in with 11 points.
“It has been a really great start for us,” said Shea, whose team is 3-0 (3-0 in the CCAL). “I think one of the biggest things for us is, these girls have been with me for a couple of years now. So now it’s starting to be like, we’re together finally and it’s our team together. Year Three is kind of the year, so to be honest with you I’m really happy with the way things have started.”
South Carroll has county victories over Westminster, last year’s CCAL champion, as well as Francis Scott Key and Winters Mill (1-1, 1-1). The Cavaliers led by 26 points midway through the second quarter, then held a 28-point lead in the third. The Falcons committed 13 turnovers in the first half and fell too far behind, but finished strong with a 16-point fourth quarter.
First-year coach Olivia Bowersox said she is also seeing progress despite Monday’s loss. Winters Mill posted only five wins last season, but returns eight seniors and a first-team all-county guard in Allie Cullison.
“Tonight ... wasn’t a good display of what we can put on the floor,” said Bowersox, who was a varsity assistant before this year and played her high school hoops for Winters Mill. “My girls, we had a rough year last year, and I have seen nothing but improvement both personally and on the court. They kept their composure for 32 minutes, and that was awesome.”
Bowersox praised senior guard Veronica Paylor, who led WM with 10 points, for her tenacious play. And Bowersox played some reserves that helped the Falcons outscore SC 16-13 in the final quarter.
“They made a case for starting [Tuesday],” said Bowersox, whose squad hosts Manchester Valley in its second game in as many nights.
Meanwhile, South Carroll visits Liberty on Friday. Vaught said she can feel the Cavaliers jelling already, with an experienced group and the return of Fowler, a first-team all-county pick in 2019, after missing most of her junior season because of injury.
“I think we all have more chemistry, and we trust each other more,” Vaught said. “It starts at practice.”