Over the past several seasons, Brian Tombs' Liberty boys basketball team has learned what it's like to be home for the holidays.
All 16 of Carroll's boys and girls basketball squads, as well as all but one wrestling team, will be taking part in a tournament this week, most beginning today. For some, that means road trips or long days in opposing gymnasiums.
The Lions' boys began hosting their own two years ago. And entering their third season, Tombs said he's pleased with how the tournament has grown in a short amount of time.
"I love it, not having to travel for the holiday, a little closer to home. One of the reasons I like doing it is for the community as well," Liberty's fourth-year coach said. "Being able to play at home is a nice little advantage for us, but we're bringing in some pretty good teams."
In the first season of the tournament, Liberty hosted just four varsity teams. It has now expanded to eight squads broken into two divisions — Freedom and Liberty.
Of the eight teams in Liberty's tournament, which begins today, South Carroll will be one of those participating. So will Westminster, making its first appearance in the tourney.
Other basketball teams staying close to home include the Century boys, the Winters Mill girls, and the North Carroll boys and girls teams, all hosting their own tournaments beginning today.
North Carroll has long hosted the Paws and Claws Holiday Hoops Tournament, which features four four-team brackets — two boys and two girls.
This year may be a bit bittersweet for the Panthers, as their school is scheduled to be close at the end of the academic year. But for NC athletic director Troy Warehime, he says the focus is on continuing to host a top-quality tournament.
"We're just trying to conduct business as usual. No one knows what the future is," Warehime said. "I love hosting the tournament. If I would have the chance to do so in the [future] I would do it again, whether it's here or wherever."
Some teams participating in this year's Paws and Claws tourney include the Manchester Valley boys and girls, the Francis Scott Key girls, and the Westminster girls.
Not all of Carroll's hoops teams are staying in the county, however.
The Francis Scott Key boys and Liberty girls are participating in a tournament at Howard, the boys starting today and the girls on Tuesday. The Winters Mill boys are playing today in the Oakland Mills tourney. The South Carroll girls are playing in the Holly and Hoops tournament at Notre Dame Prep beginning today.
But for all teams, the benefit of the holiday tournaments are for the teams to stay fresh during an otherwise long stretch without games.
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"We have a lot of good teams, so it will be good to see different competion," Tombs said. "They're getting a little different style of play, different kids than they normally see."
Every wrestling squad other than Winters Mill will be participating in a tournament this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. They'll all get to stay in the county, too.
Century, Francis Scott Key, and North Carroll will be participating in the Jeff Yingling Memorial Tournament hosted by FSK. While Liberty, Manchester Valley, South Carroll, and Westminster will all be in a duals tournament hosted by the Owls.
As for indoor track and field, Century, FSK, North Carroll, South Carroll and Winters Mill will all be at the Frostbite Invite at PG Sportsplex today at 11 a.m.