Defending county softball champion Atholton will play host to Long Reach tomorrow, with the winner earning at least a share of the county championship.
Both teams are 15-3 overall and 12-3 in the league. The Raiders end the regular season Wednesday against visiting Hammond (0-16) while Long Reach is at Glenelg (10-6). Atholton is coming off a 15-hit, 15-4 win over Howard, and coach John Zitko said his team is peaking at the right time.
"We're playing with the confidence that we played with last year," said Zitko, whose team beat Long Reach, 7-1, earlier in the season. "Our pitching and defense has always been there, and now we're starting to hit the ball. I feel great about our team."
Long Reach had a two-game lead on Atholton last Monday, but consecutive losses to Centennial and Howard created the tie.
Long Reach coach Chuck Struhar said his team played its "worst game of the season, without a doubt" earlier against the Raiders. Long Reach committed six errors.
"We were over-ready," Struhar said. "Everyone was so tense. They wanted to win so bad."
Struhar said his team will approach tomorrow's game differently. "It's for the county championship, but we're taking it more low-key," Struhar said. "We're just going to go out and play the game, have fun and see what happens."
Struhar said his team's pitching and defense "can't be any better" then they are now, but added the year-long hitting woes continue. "We're struggling at the plate," he said.
River Hill's boys and Wilde Lake's girls hold one-game leads in the race for county titles with two matches remaining.
River Hill (15-1) plays host to Mount Hebron (14-2), which is tied with Centennial for second place, tomorrow. The Hawks end the regular season Tuesday at Howard.
Wilde Lake's girls (15-1) travel to second-place Mount Hebron (14-2) on Tuesday. The Vikings handed the Wildecats their only loss of the season.
Mount Hebron freshman Rohan Nabar remained unbeaten Friday with an 8-6 victory over Glenelg freshman Ryan Yao.
Nabar defeated Yao, 9-7, earlier this season and also has defeated defending county champion Ari Zweig of Wilde Lake, 8-2.
Yao, who beat Nabar twice in best-of-three indoor tournaments this winter, had a 6-3 lead in Friday's contest at Mount Hebron.
"I'm disappointed that I couldn't finish it," said Yao, whose family moved to the area last summer from Chicago.
"He started to play a little more consistent at the end, and I got a little tired."
Nabar, whose family moved to Howard County last summer from Jacksonville, said Yao "played really well" and was "just glad to come away with the victory.
"We're extremely close. It could go either way in every match," Nabar added.
The county tournament begins Thursday at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club, and the two 15-year-olds could meet again Saturday morning in the championship.
"If it's me and him in the final," said Nabar, "it should be a really good match."
The seeding meeting for the county tournament will be tomorrow night. Nabar is expected to be the boys top seed, and Wilde Lake's Lauren Bondroff the girls top seed. Bondroff, a county finalist last year, is undefeated this season.
Top-ranked Mount Hebron (12-0 overall, 8-0 league) didn't play its best, but was good enough to defeat seventh-ranked Notre Dame Prep, 15-6, Friday at NDP.
"NDP's defense forced us into a lot of turnovers," said Mount Hebron coach Chris Robinson, who complimented goalie Katelyn Hoffman for her strong play. "We still rose above it and were good enough to win the game by a comfortable margin."
With a regular-season ending victory Tuesday against Wilde Lake, the Vikings will complete their 10th straight unbeaten county season. This will be their 12th county title in 13 years. Mount Hebron is 97-1 against county teams and has won 81 straight league games. Its only loss was to Centennial in 1990.
The Vikings have won 43 straight games overall.
Off to college
Long Reach sprinter Teyarnte Carter has earned a scholarship to the University of Alabama.
Nikki Brown, a Columbia resident who played basketball at Seton Keough, will attend the University of South Carolina-Spartansburg on a scholarship.
Twins Bridgette and Jessica Burkhardt of Long Reach have earned scholarships to Appalachian State University, where they will play field hockey/
Centennial's Maggie Via will play lacrosse at Columbia Unversity, which doesn't award athletic scholarships.
Girls basketball coaches Mike Mongelli of Hammond and Shanya Evans of Long Reach will not return next season because their contracts were not renewed.
Mongelli, a long-time coach at Hammond whose boys basketball team won a state title in 1983, took over the girls team last season and finished 8-10 in the county and 11-13 overall. Evans started the girls program at Long Reach when the school opened in 1996. The Lightning was 2-16 in the county and 2-21 overall this past season, and 15-57 and 23-73 in the last four years. Both coaches and their respective school administrations declined to comment.
Bryan Rothstein is the new girls soccer coach at Long Reach, replacing Jennifer Peduzzi, who left the school in mid-year to become an assistant principal at Centennial.
Rothstein was raised in Columbia - his parents still live near the Wilde Lake village center - and attended and played soccer at Calvert Hall and Towson University. He coached the girls soccer program at Friends for five seasons, and for the last three years at Parkville. Last season's Parkville team lost in the Class 4A championship.
Rothstein works at the Strawbridge School in Baltimore County, a school for students with emotional difficulties. Rothstein became available because Parkville decided to go with a coach that teaches at the school.
Rothstein said he is "very, very excited" about taking over at Long Reach, where the team finished 5-3-1 in the county and 8-6-1 overall last season.