A 72-57 win over Century last night gave host Liberty a share of its first Carroll County title since 1983.
To Westminster coach Brett Kanther, however, the argument about where the title deserves to rest may linger for some time.
Kanther, whose team also earned a share of the county title, claims that a new rule instituted prior to this season determining how the title is decided never was revealed to the vast majority of county coaches until earlier this week. Unlike past years, the rule stipulates that only the second meeting between county teams now counts toward the county standings.
That means that Westminster, despite its overall 8-1 record against county teams, officially finished 5-1, tying a Liberty team that had two county losses overall. Under the old rule, the county would've been decided when Liberty lost to South Carroll on Tuesday.
"No one knew about [the change]," said Kanther. "At the August meeting, I don't remember it being reviewed at all."
Blessed with a second chance, however, the Lions weren't about to let a golden opportunity pass.
"We didn't play well at South Carroll and were a little disappointed, but we knew we still had one more shot at it," said Liberty coach Steve Johnson. "We put it in our mind that we were just going to leave it out here on the floor tonight."
Forward Andrew Martin had his way in the middle until getting into foul trouble, scoring 19 points in a little over 24 minutes, and forward Josh Vittek added 17 as the Lions (13-9 overall) finished the first half with an 11-1 run, holding Century without a field goal for the final 4:30 to take control.
"They were giving me the shots that I wanted to take, so I just took them," said Martin.
Said Johnson: "We've been going inside all year long. The difference was that we made some inside tonight."
The Knights (11-11, 4-2), meanwhile, shot just 34 percent from the field. Forward Ryan Pauley led Century with 15 points, but was its lone player in double figures.
"I thought the bottom line is that we just didn't hit a lot of shots," said Century coach George Wunder. "Andrew Martin makes people change their shots, and I think that had a little effect also. I think we got some good looks inside, but they just weren't falling."
Liberty continued its surge into the second half, quickly pushing its lead to double digits, then to as many as 21 by midway through the fourth quarter, even with Martin on the bench after picking up his fourth foul.
Following the game, Johnson said that it really didn't matter how the title came about - just that his players achieved it.
"It's still important to the kids," said Johnson. "It's one of our goals that we set in the beginning of the year - to put a county championship on the wall. We achieved that."
Kanther, however, remains adamant that more changes need to be made to the system.
Had Century prevailed last night, the Knights would have split the championship with Westminster despite having lost four games in the county, including one to the Owls.
"There needs to be a county championship game decided on the floor," said Kanther. "We teach our kids that you play to win. Winning counts - it's about winning. How can you just throw out the first game? We're getting mixed messages from the county."