Much like the overwhelming majority of its shots, Century's chance to capture sole possession of the Carroll County girls basketball title last night ended with a thud.
Facing one of the county's best half-court defensive teams, the Knights began the game 0-for-21 from the field, going the first 15:33 without a basket in a 46-24 loss to host Liberty (6-13, 3-5).
The loss leaves Century (11-9, 6-2) in a tie for the championship with Westminster. Both have completed their regular seasons.
"This makes it even sweeter when they're in first place and you have a chance to knock them out," Liberty coach Mike Boehme said. "We've been playing great half-court man-to-man for the last five or six games. We just get better every game. Century had a tough time shooting, but I think that was because we were in their face when they were taking shots."
The first half was surreal, with every shot by the Knights, some pressured and some not, either clanging off the rim or never getting that far. It looked as if they might go the first half without a basket before junior Mandy Psenicska, left alone after a rare defensive breakdown, hit a 15-footer with 27 seconds left.
By that time, Liberty had built a 22-5 lead.
"We dug a hole that was kind of hard to come back from," Century coach Joel Beard said. "We couldn't get the ball inside and we didn't shoot real well. It seems like when we win, we have nights when we can put it in. When we don't, we're like this. Usually it's only a couple minutes, but this was all game long."
After starting the game 1-for-30, Century wound up shooting 16 percent.
"We kept up our defense, and our intensity was immaculate," Lions guard Kristen Hannon said. "I think that's the best defense we can play. I think it was just that we had nothing to lose and they had a lot, and we knew it."
Hannon led Liberty with 12 points, and Brittany Harman added eight.
Liberty has one regular-season game remaining - at Francis Scott Key tonight - before opening the Class 3A, West playoffs at North Carroll on Friday. Despite his team's record, Boehme believes it could surprise.
"Nobody else had to play [No. 2] River Hill this year. Nobody had to play Long Reach. Nobody else had to play [No. 6] Glenelg. We had to have the toughest schedule out of conference of anybody," Boehme said. "I think we're better than our record indicates.