It was not a typical season for the South Carroll Cavaliers last year.
Region playoff appearances and county titles have been the norm for quite some time -- 7-15 seasons are not.
That's the kind of season it was for coach Jim Carnes and his young Cavaliers. South Carroll, which went into last season with a string of seven straight playoff appearances and winning the county three of the past four years, lost its top seven players from the year before and it was a learn-as-you-go experience for the rest.
Carnes is hoping that with just about everyone returning and last year's experience, the Cavaliers once again can enjoy the success they've grown accustomed to over the years.
"We're much farther ahead of schedule at this time than we were last season. They're much more adjusted to the situation," Carnes said.
Carnes has more depth to work with this season and has seen improvement at some key positions, starting with junior point guard Greg Mihalko, who averaged eight points and four assists last season.
"He's just steady. Greg's hitting the open shot and the big thing this year is he's not afraid to take the shot," Carnes said.
Joining Mihalko in the starting backcourt is Jon Strebe, a 6-0 senior who Carnes said is shooting the ball well this year. Senior John Eaton will back up Mihalko at the point.
Fellow senior Brad Schulze, who averaged just under 12 a game last season, will play the small forward spot and also can move to the backcourt when needed.
A big key for the Cavaliers will be the inside play they get from 6-3 Corey Hill and 6-4 Brian Peltier -- both seniors.
"The key to our season will be how well we score inside and rebound," Carnes said.
"We're going to spread the scoring out and go with the same fast-paced, open-court game. Scoring inside will make a lot of things much easier."
.4l Peltier averaged over six points a game last year and Carnes said Hill is probably his most improved player this season. Both will have to do their share underneath at both ends of the floor for the Cavaliers to turn things around.
Despite the down year, the Cavaliers still finished 4-2 last season in the county and managed to go .500 in the Central Maryland Conference at 6-6. More importantly, the strong work ethic was always there and remains with the team this season.
"The county looks to be wide open," Carnes said.
"Westminster looks very big and should cause a lot of problems. Liberty was on the verge of turning the corner last season and could do it this year. North Carroll could do the same."