Largo High boys basketball coach Rodney Ward said he was in the stands in Owings Mills last year when New Town’s seemingly invincible 16-point fourth quarter lead evaporated under intense pressure from Frederick Douglass of Prince George’s County in a Class 2A state quarterfinal.
Ward added that he felt bad for the Titans, even though his allegiance was to the Lions’ Prince George’s County neighbor.
Thursday evening at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Ward witnessed at close hand just how much the No. 4 Titans learned from that setback. New Town defeated the Lions, 64-57, in the Class 2A state championship game.
Cam Sparrow led New Town (25-3 overall) with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, and Jaden Brown added 15. Cam Ward finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for Largo (21-7).
Tied with the Lions in the final minute of regulation, New Town finished on a 7-0 run to garner the program’s fourth state crown and first since 2016. Senior guard Arrington Greenfield finished with 12 points
Sparrow took matters into his own hands for the Titans after Largo freshman Jalen Johnson’s bucket knotted the score for the fifth and final time in the epic battle. While he handled the ball near the elbow, Sparrow had to make a decision very quickly about what to do next.
Fortunately for New Town, the 6-foot-5 wing was as aggressive as he was accurate in going to the basket while being fouled — he converted the free throw — right in front of the New Town bench and their raucous fans.
”I had the ball in my hands, and I thought I had a little bit of a mismatch,” said Sparrow, who averaged a team-best 19.5 points and seven rebounds per game coming into the contest. “I went to the basket and that was it.”
After a couple of close shots didn’t fall for Largo at the other end of the floor, Sparrow went back to the line with 22 seconds left and drilled both free throws. A dunk by New Town senior forward Jaden Brown (15 points, 6 boards) with a few ticks left on the clock was an exclamation point on a hard-earned triumph.
”It was the kind of game you want to be in,” Ward said. “We’ve had a great journey this season, but it came down to making plays at the end and they made more than we did.”
New Town coach Derek Wise said that the Baltimore County champs’ height advantage was a factor in the favorable outcome.
”We had to attack the basket and exploit that a little bit,” he said.
Early in the game, the Titans did just that. They built a 14-5 advantage midway through the first half, largely due to a nine-point rampage by Sparrow on two jumpers, an old-school three-point play and a stick-back. The lead did not last, due to a 16-2 run that put the Lions on top, 21-16, early in the second period.
That lasted until a layup by senior forward Jamal Price (11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) and a reverse by Brown brought the Titans to within a point of tying the score.
New Town eventually drew even, at 28, at halftime as senior guard Cam Kirkland (7 points, 7 rebounds) drained a triple from the side. The Titans scored the first eight points of the third quarter to spurt ahead, 36-28, behind a pair of Price buckets and maintained that margin for most of the period before the Lions clawed back to within 44-41 on a 3-pointer by Andre King and his subsequent free throw.
Every time the Titans earned some breathing room in the final period, Largo rallied. The Lions tied the game at 55 on a Jalen Johnson stick-back, only to watch Sparrow find Brown open in the paint for a short jumper and a 57-55 lead with 1:32 to go.
”When it was do or die, their experience showed,” Rodney Ward said.
Adding to Largo’s issues, Cameron Ward, its talented sophomore, was hamstrung with four fouls.
”I wanted to be physical at the end of the game,” said the 6-foot-7 son of the Lions coach, who’s one of the nation’s top prospects in the Class of 2025. “But (foul trouble) was a factor.”
A zone defense, Wise said, was used by the Titans to keep Cam Ward from going off even more.
”We wanted to front him in the paint,” Wise said. “We did what we could.”
It was defense that spurred New Town’s postseason run. After giving up 82 points to 4A state finalist Parkville in the regular season, the Titans allowed just 40 points in its final six decisions, starting with Parkville, which they held to a season-low 53 to win the Baltimore County title.
Thursday, New Town held Largo to its second-lowest point output of the season and 32.8-percent (22-of-67) shooting.
“It was a gutsy win against a tough team,” said Wise. “It boiled down to senior leadership — and that leadership didn’t blink.”
CLASS 2A BOYS BASKETBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at University of Maryland
NO. 4 NEW TOWN 64, LARGO 57
(AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND’S XFINITY CENTER)NO. 4 NEW TOWN 64, LARGO 57Largo 16 12 13 16 — 57New Town 15 13 16 20 — 64Largo - Cameron Ward 19, Andre King 7, Christian Ware 9, Sean Johnson 2, Jalen Johnson 11, John May 4, Rooney Joseph 5. Totals 22 8-12 57New Town - Arrington Greenfield 12, Jamal Price 11, Cam Kirkland 7, Cam Sparrow 17, Jaden Brown 15 Jaleel Hawkins 2. Totals 25 12-20 64