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Liberty's Andrew Swanson tees off during the district golf tournament at the Black Rock Golf Course in Hagerstown on Tuesday.
Liberty's Andrew Swanson tees off during the district golf tournament at the Black Rock Golf Course in Hagerstown on Tuesday. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Paul Bangle has been preaching consistency to his Liberty golf team all season long, and the Lions have been listening.

If they adhere to their coach's plan, they just might be crowned county champions later today.

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Liberty takes to the Links at Gettysburg golf course as the front runner to win its first county tournament in five years. And by doing so, the Lions can also add a regular-season county crown to their resume, their first since 2007.

"I can't say I'm not pleased with where we're at," Bangle said earlier in the week. "If you play consistent, you should be rewarded."

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Bangle hasn't had to crunch too many numbers when it comes to solving the county puzzle. Golf uses a point system to crown its champ — two points for every official regular-season win over a Carroll foe, and then one point for every team beaten at the county tourney (seven for first place, six for second, etc.).

Liberty has 13 points, followed by South Carroll with 11, Winters Mill with 10, and North Carroll with eight (the Lions have six county wins and a tie with the Cavaliers, who have five county wins).

So, barring a crazy county tourney finish, Bangle figures his Lions can place third or higher and clinch the title.

Playing consistently will likely be a challenge today at Gettysburg, where Carroll's golfers are facing a par-72, 6,277-yard championship course that hosted an LPGA futures tournament in the summer of 2007, a few months before Liberty won its most recent county title.

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The course features its share of hazards, with bodies of water in play on 14 of 18 holes.

"Fast greens. I've talked to my kids about it," Bangle said. "I think it's very similar to Piney Branch in terms of the course. The back nine, it can be tough. I want to use the phrase 'eat you alive' if you're not careful. The big thing I've tried to emphasize is keep it in play."

Junior Andrew Swanson leads the Lions in scoring average at 43.0, with senior Bret Barrett and sophomore Josh Kelly both at 43.5, and freshman Gavin Greer at 44.8.

The Lions aren't close to the county leaders — South Carroll senior CJ Smith leads the pack at 37.0; Winters Mill freshman John Francisco and SC freshman Ryan Stankewicz are tied for second at 40.2 — but their ability to post similar scores has been the key to their success.

North Carroll sophomore Brian Sadler (40.7 scoring average), who played at Liberty last year, is also a contender to take individual medalist honors, along with WM senior Braedon Dorsey (also 40.7) and Century senior Jacob Reed (40.9).

South Carroll won the tourney a year ago — Smith shot 72 at River Downs, Liberty's home course, winning the individual crown by one stroke en route to being named Times Player of the Year — which propelled the Cavaliers to the county title.

But Liberty hasn't lost to a Carroll team all season, and putting together one more consistent performance could lift the Lions to the top of the heap.

"It seems like if one guy doesn't have a great day, then there's somebody else to step in and give us a 40 or a 41," Bangle said. "That has been huge for us this year."

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County tourney

Where: Links at Gettysburg

When: Today, 10 a.m.

2014 champ: South Carroll

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