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At long last, Carroll County again set for high school sports amid coronavirus pandemic

No more waiting.

Well, just one more day. Carroll County hasn’t held a public high school sporting event since early March 2020, but that’s about to change with the start of the winter season Tuesday. County officials agreed to give coaches and athletes an additional day coming out of the winter break before having prep sports back in the county, as they originally agreed to start the season Jan. 4.

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Practices for boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling and indoor track began Dec. 15, and winter teams and athletes had 20 days of practices and conditioning sessions. Carroll County followed the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s updated return-to-play plan that moved the start date of winter sports up from Feb. 1 to Dec. 7. But Carroll wound up starting one week later to allow for more time to pass amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, at long last, when four county wrestling teams square off against one another around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Carroll’s high school sports scene will once again have a spark.

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“We are fortunate to have this opportunity and will relish it each day we step on the court,” Liberty boys basketball coach Brian Tombs said via email.

Tombs led the Lions to the Class 2A state quarterfinals a year ago, and to get there they ousted county rival Century to capture their first regional title. The Knights won 20 games and the Carroll County Athletic League title, but fell short in the postseason in their third matchup with Liberty of the season.

Century and Liberty have but one day to wait before they resume their rivalry, with the first of two regular-season games set for Wednesday night at 6 on the Lions’ court.

Century, Westminster, and Liberty were the three county boys teams with winning records last season. Meanwhile, Manchester Valley’s Brett DeWees led the county in scoring (17.9 points per game) and rebounding (8.8 rpg) in his senior season en route to being named Times Player of the Year.

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Westminster senior Emily Davis takes part in drills as head coach Dave Urban watches the progress during a girls basketball team practice at the school on Wednesday, December 30, 2020.
Westminster senior Emily Davis takes part in drills as head coach Dave Urban watches the progress during a girls basketball team practice at the school on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Westminster’s girls earned the CCAL title and finished with 16 wins, but Liberty made the deepest playoff run when the Lions reached the 2A state quarterfinals. Liberty knocked off Century in their regional final as well, led by perennial all-county pick Rachel Thiem. She finished second all-time on the Lions’ scoring list, and averaged 14.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Man Valley’s Amelia Saunders also surpassed 1,000 career points during her senior season, led Carroll in scoring (17.8 ppg), and received Player of the Year honors.

In wrestling, South Carroll won regular-season and county tournament championships in 2020, while Manchester Valley competed in the Class 3A state dual-meet finals last February.

Carroll crowned three individual state champions a year ago, and all three came from Winfield ― fellow freshmen Michael Pizzuto, Gage Owen, and AJ Rodrigues, who are all back for South Carroll in 2021. Pizzuto, the Wrestler of the Year, finished 50-0 at 106 pounds, while Owen 47-3 at 120 and Rodrigues finished 50-2 at 126.

They won’t be able to go after a second state title, however, since the MPSSAA isn’t putting together any sanctioned postseason events amid the pandemic.

The Cavaliers had a team champion last winter when their girls indoor track squad won the 2A championship. SC held (46 points) off Harford Tech (45.5) at the state meet to win its first such crown in school history. The Cavs took second at the CCAL meet for girls and boys, while Century swept those titles in late January.

Two records fell last year at the boys county meet, where Century’s Tyler Dregley won the 1,600 run in 4:27.2 and teammate Chett Brunner won the shot put with 53 feet, 9.75 inches. The Knights also set a pair of girls county meet marks on the same day ― their 4x400 relay (4:13) and Jasmine Stanton in the 55 dash (7.3 seconds).

The indoor track season is slated to begin Jan. 9 with meets at Century and Manchester Valley, both of which are scheduled to take place outdoors.

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