The county's top two wrestling teams - No. 4 Chesapeake and No. 8 Old Mill - will square off in a tri-match at Annapolis tonight with the winner taking a big step toward the regular-season title.
While the Cougars (7-1 overall, 7-0 in the county) may bring the bigger names - led by seniors Corey Bowers (17-0 at 119) and Seppi Serio (17-2 at 160) - the Patriots (9-0, 6-0) counter with senior Doug West (21-0 at 130) and a balanced lineup that makes for a close match. All three of those wrestlers are No. 1 in their weight classes in The Sun's individual rankings.
Which team does better in staying off its back may be the deciding factor.
"We both know each other real well," said Old Mill coach Jim Grim. "They have some dominant kids and we have some dominant kids, so it will be not only how we win, but also how we lose."
Another key factor may be conditioning. With snow having postponed school the first three days of the week and exams going on, the teams only had a 90-minute practice yesterday to prepare.
"It's fair in that everybody is in the same boat, but it's tough," said Chesapeake coach Rex Miller. "We'll see who the dedicated wrestlers are - who was running and working out in their house, doing things on their own. We'll see the difference in who comes in ready."
Grim said his group is going into the match as if it's just another regular-season test. Last season, the Patriots won the regular-season encounter between the two, but the Cougars came back to beat them in the Class 4A-3A East region duals. The Patriots also have Arundel and South River left on their schedule next week.
Brady near milestone
John Brady, who has coached boys basketball at Annapolis for 27 years, is one win away from tying the late Bill Bowers of Allegany High for second place on the all-time list for wins by state public school coaches.
Brady stands at 565-100 (.850), and Bowers was 566-166 (.773) in 30 seasons at his Western Maryland school. Tom Dickman, the former Thomas Johnson coach now at Hood College, is the all-time leader with 592 career wins.
Winners of six in a row, including last week's 61-59 upset of then No. 6 Glen Burnie (11-2), the Annapolis Panthers (8-5) visit Arundel (8-5) tonight.
A victory by the Panthers in Gambrills tonight would give the team a chance to place Brady in second place at home on Tuesday against North County (3-9).
Spalding takes to road
It's Super Bowl weekend, and at Archbishop Spalding it's just a super weekend of big road games for the school's boys basketball team.
The No. 3-ranked Cavaliers (17-3) visit No. 6 St. Frances (17-4) at 7 tonight and on Sunday travel to No. 4 Cardinal Gibbons (20-3) for a 3:30 p.m. contest.
Spalding at 8-1 and 7-1 is a half game behind top-ranked Mount St. Joseph (18-1) in the Baltimore Catholic League and a game behind the Gaels in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. The Gaels are 8-0 in both leagues.
St. Frances and surging Gibbons are both two games in the loss column behind Spalding.
Coach Mike Glick's Cavaliers figure to face a hostile crowd at Gibbons on Sunday. The usual Crusaders student section will be fueled by a large contingent of alumni expected to play in the Alumni game before the Spalding game
AACS in good shape
Despite a rebuilt starting lineup, the Annapolis Area Christian School's girls basketball team remains poised to defend its Maryland Christian Athletic League crown.
Minus four starters from last year's 17-3 team, the Eagles are 5-7 overall but 3-1 in league play.
They'll get a chance to avenge their only league loss when they play host to Greater Grace on Tuesday. In the first meeting on Jan. 15, the Eagles lost, 46-45, at Greater Grace without senior center Monica Bunts, who was out with an ankle injury.
Bunts, who averages a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds, is back in the lineup, and coach Bob Topp is confident his Eagles will find a better result at home next week. A win would give the Eagles a share of first place and a win by two or more points would put them in position to stake claim to the top seed in the MCAL tournament, which starts on Feb. 17 at Loyola College.
Topp said a pleasant surprise has been the play of freshman small forward Lindsay Luzader, who worked her way into the starting lineup and is averaging just under 10 points a game.
Glen Burnie alumni set
Glen Burnie coach Mike Rudd and his staff will hold the Gophers' annual boys basketball alumni game at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the high school. For information, call Rudd at 410-553-6138 in the evening or at school, 410-761-8950, ext. 285.