Starting with almost an entirely new group of players each season, Bowling Brook basketball coach Matt Meakin never knows what to expect from his team.
This season, however, expectations at the preparatory school for at-risk youth in western Carroll County are on the rise after a 9-5 start.
With one more win, the team will match its highest victory total in recent years, which came in 2002 when the Thoroughbreds finished 10-13. Last season, they were 5-13.
"This really has been quite a surprise," Meakin said. "In the past seven or eight seasons, we haven't won too many games."
Meakin said the team's strength is its depth, with a dozen experienced players on the roster. They are led by Carl Walker, a quick point guard who also serves as the team's unofficial leader, a strong inside player in forward Jabril Williams and defensive standouts Labryant Davis and Brandon Davis.
The Thoroughbreds rely on pressure defense to create turnovers that lead to fast breaks. The fast-paced style has led them to wins against teams such as Century, Linganore and Catoctin and helped them to stay within striking distance of No. 4 Mount St. Joseph through the third quarter of an eventual loss.
They are scheduled to face Westminster for the second time this season on Tuesday night, and later this season they will play Urbana and Thomas Johnson.
"It's very, very important [to play public schools], because that's really how we measure ourselves," Meakin said "We don't get a chance to compete for a conference championship, but we can see how we do against all the county schools."
The Thoroughbreds previously were a member of the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference until that league folded in 1994 and many of its members joined the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Carroll County's two state playoff teams from this past football season, Francis Scott Key and Winters Mill, will meet in the regular-season finale in 2007, according to the schedule, which was released last week.
In November, Winters Mill's 44-12 win over Key helped propel the Falcons into the Class 2A state playoffs.
Other highlights on the schedule include a season opener matching Francis Scott Key and Westminster, as well as a Week 4 meeting between cross-town rivals Winters Mill and Westminster. Every county team except North Carroll and Liberty will play each other, with both the Panthers and Lions playing five of the other six county teams.
Panthers earn honors
A pair of underclassmen from North Carroll are being recognized after recently leading the Panthers' girls basketball team to a championship in their holiday tournament for the first time this decade.
Freshman forward Caitlin Bach has been named the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Chesapeake Conference Player of the Week after scoring 27 points and grabbing 29 rebounds in two games, including a 52-42 win over John Carroll in the Claws Division final.
Sophomore teammate Cinthia Ruiz also had a tournament to remember. The point guard scored 17 points in the championship game, including a three-point play with 11 seconds left to seal the win.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net.