County and conference titles and region playoff spots will hang in the balance as the county basketball regular season ends this week.

On the boys side, Westminster still is battling for the Central Maryland Conference title with Thomas Johnson. The Owls were hoping to clinch a county title last night, and still were trying to hold off Frederick for the sixth and final playoff spot in Class 4A Region I.

South Carroll, meanwhile, is struggling to maintain fourth place in the Class 3A Region I standings in order to have the home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

On the girls side, Liberty and Westminster are slugging it out for the county title and forthe fourth seed in the Class 3A Region I playoffs. Westminster is scrambling for a spot in the Class 4A Region I playoffs.

Westminster needed a win either against North Carroll last night (after press time) or Friday night at Liberty (5:30 junior varsity, 7 varsity) to clinch the sixth spot in the region. The Owls could move up to fourth or fifth if either Seneca Valley or Randallstown falters in its final games.

If Westminster finishes sixth, it likely will open the playoffs Monday at Dulaney, probably the third seed. If the Owls finish fifth, they would play at Seneca Valley, but if they move up to fourth, would play host to the Montgomery County school.

The boys regiontournaments will continue next Wednesday and Friday. Quince Orchard and Woodlawn are the top two teams and would have first-round byes ifthey remain in those spots.

The Cavaliers needed to win either last night's game against Liberty or Friday night's game at North Carroll (5:30 and 7) to clinch a spot, depending on how other region teamsdid. The Cavs could even finish as high as third in the region, depending on how Howard and North Hagerstown fare in their final games.

If the Cavs remain in fifth place, they likely would visit North Hagerstown Monday. But if they improve to fourth, would play host to the Hubs. Of course, Linganore could bounce the Cavs to sixth if the Winfield team drops its last two, meaning the Cavs would have to visit the third-seeded team, most likely Howard.

Thomas Johnson has the top seed locked up but won't be able to play any home games because of a fire earlier this month that caused major damage to the FrederickCounty school. Oakland Mills should finish as the No. 2 team in the region.

Francis Scott Key is locked in as the fifth seed in Class 1A Region II and will visit the fourth-seeded team in Monday's first-round playoff game. That probably will be Owings Mills but could be Poolesville.

North Carroll and Liberty have been eliminated from postseason play.

For the girls, Westminster may need to win its lasttwo games -- last night at North Carroll and tomorrow at home against Liberty (5:30 and 7). The Owls are among four teams fighting for the final two playoff spots.

The girls playoffs start Tuesday, and the if Westminster finishes sixth, they will visit the third-seeded team, most likely either Dulaney or Seneca Valley. If they finish fourth or fifth, they probably will play Randallstown, with the higher-seeded team being the host.

Liberty and North Carroll seem destined to play each other in the first round; the two have jockeyed around for the fourth and fifth spot the past couple of weeks. Liberty, after beating North Carroll and South Carroll in its last two games, has the inside track for fourth.

In other sports this weekend, North Carroll doesn't appear to have a serious challenger for the Class 3A/4A Region I wrestling meet at Westminster High Friday and Saturday. But the Panthers may be trying to do something perhaps unique in state wrestling history.

With 12 of their 13 wrestlers seeded No. 3 or better in their weight classes, and the 13th seeded No. 6, the Panthers might be able to qualify all 13 of their wrestlers for the state tournament.

No team has ever placed a wrestler in all 13 weight classes (12 before 1989) in the state tournament, at least as far as Ron Belinko, the state tournament director, or Haswell Franklin, of the Maryland State Wrestling Association, can recall.

Westminster and Liberty should battle Perry Hall and Randallstown for second in the teamrace. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament a week later at Western Maryland College.

Action begins Friday night at 6 with the first two rounds, then continues Saturday at 10 a.m. with the finals slated for about 4:15 p.m.

Key has nine wrestlers qualified for the Class 1A/2A Region I meet at North Hagerstown, starting at 6 p.m. Friday and continuing Saturday at noon.The finals are slated for about 6 p.m. Saturday, and Smithsburg fromis favored for the team title.

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