Shortly after watching his team to Parkville High last Friday, New Town boys basketball coach Derek Wise stated that he was “relishing the opportunity to come back” and play the host Knights in the Baltimore County championship game Tuesday, but that his squad needed “to get better” to change the outcome.
True to the coach’s words, the No. 7 Titans showed marked improvement on defense and the end result was a 61-53 victory to end No. 4 Parkville’s 22-game winning streak and bid a second straight league championship.
“We watched some film; we watched a lot of film,” said Wise following Friday’s 82-74 setback. “We pointed out some things we did wrong. You know, we missed a lot of layups and some unforced turnovers. We fixed those mistakes we made in the first game. Things turned around for us.”
It’s the first Baltimore County crown since 2020 for New Town (20-3 overall), which lost to Parkville, 82-74, in the regular season finale for both last Friday.
“We pressed a lot the first game. We didn’t want to do that this game. We wanted to change it up,” said Wise. “I thought we did well in our halfcourt man, and we were able to sustain them, slow the game down a little bit because they like to get up and down the court. Once we slowed the game down, sat down, and played defense, and like I said, rebounded, I thought we were in a good spot.”
While the Knights (22-1) were certainly hamstrung by foul trouble with the high-scoring backcourt tandem of Sincere Barfield and Caron Smith each picked up three fouls in the first half, New Town’s halfcourt man-to-man defense smothered Parkville’s high-octane offense and forced numerous turnovers.
Barfield and Smith, who poured in a combined 53 points in Friday’s win, were limited to 24 combined points and just four in the first half as New Town opened up a 32-19 halftime advantage that it never surrendered the rest of the way.
Smith fouled out with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in regulation Tuesday.
“We had to lock in their shooters and find where their playmakers were,” said Titansforward Jamal Price, who produced 13 points and seven rebounds Tuesday. “Lockdown on their playmakers and finish shots. Last game, it took us time to get going, but we came out early, punched them in the mouth, and finished up.”
The Titans were certainly the aggressors in the first quarter, jumping out to a 17-7 lead behind eight points from Jaden Brown (11 points, seven rebounds) and at least two points from five different players before settling for a 17-8 lead heading into the second quarter. That balanced offense carried throughout the contest as five players reached double figures, including 14 points from Justus Stanton, 11 from Cam Sparrow, and 10 from Arrington Greenfield.
The Knights, who posted 14 or more points in each quarter in Friday’s win, struggled to get anything going offensively, especially with Smith sitting out large stretches of the contest. He had one field and converted two free throws in the first half. Barfield was held scoreless in the opening 16 minutes.
Smith fouled out with 5:15 left in the game.
“We were well prepared, but we played the first half with a lack of energy and effort,” said Knights coach Josh Czerski, whose team’s last setback was a 59-57 loss to eventual state champion Eleanor Roosevelt in last season’sClass 4A state semifinals. “We were in foul trouble all game. Caron Smith, who should be the Baltimore County player of the year, played only half of the game.”
Parkville made things interesting in the third quarter, trimming the deficit to six points at 42-36 behind eight points from Smith (15 points) and a late long-distance 3-pointer by Barfield (nine points) late in the third quarter. Barfield opened the fourth quarter with an old-fashioned 3-point play to cut the deficit to 42-39 with 7:34 left in the game, but 10 of 14 free throw shooting, mostly in the double bonus, and a huge fourth quarter by Stanton, a sophomore point guard, sealed New Town’s win.
Stanton, who had eight fourth-quarter points, drilled a baseline 3-pointer with about 2:05 left in the game to give the Titans a 57-48 lead. He then converted an uncontested fastbreak layup with 27.5 seconds left to put the finishing touches on the win.
“Playing here twice, back-to-back in their gym, we had to adapt to their environment and get it done,” Price said.
New Town is riding a wave of confidence heading into the Class 2A North Region I playoffs. The Titans host Lansdowne or Owings Mills in a semifinal Tuesday.
Josiah Legree had 12 points and Favor Okigweh finished with 11 rebounds to go with five points for the Knights, who will host Perry Hall or Catonsville in the 4A North Region I semifinals Tuesday.
“I think it’s fortunate for both teams to be able to play two tough games going into the playoffs. You have to be able to take on adversity and use it as a lesson,” said Czerski. “We were already talking about practice tomorrow. We need to go 5-0 to win states.”
BALTIMORE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
NO. 7 NEW TOWN 61, NO. 4 PARKVILLE 53
New Town - Jaden Brown 11, Arrington Greenfield 10, Jamal Price 13, Cam Sparrow 11, Jaleel Hawkins 2, Justus Stanton 14. Totals: 21 13-25 61.
Parkville - Favor Okigweh 5, Dwain Worsley 6, Caron Smith 15, Josiah Legree 12, Cayne Woodland 4, Sincere Barfield 9, Michael Wiggins 2. Totals: 20 9-12 53.
New Town 17 15 10 19 - 61
Parkville 8 11 17 17 - 53