With under a minute left in the third quarter and top-seeded New Town clinging to a four-point lead over visiting Pikesville in the Class 1A North Region championship game, Titan point guard Daniel Shand knew it was Justin time.
Shand saw teammate Justin Brown wave his hand along the baseline and he fed him an alley-oop that the senior flushed home with 34 seconds left.
After Damien Hamler’s rebound at the other end, Shand went coast-to-coast for a three-point play that pushed the lead to nine, 50-41 with 11 seconds left in the quarter.
Pikesville (16-9) never got any closer as the Titans (22-3) closed out a 71-58 victory and earned its second straight trip to College Park for the state tournament’s final four.
“It changed the whole momentum of the game,” said Brown, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. “That’s kind of what dunks do. It just got us going and we kept the lead throughout the whole fourth quarter.”
“The alley oop was going to give us momentum and we got it,” said Shand, who poured in 21 points to go along with five assists and three steals.”
New Town coach Mike Daniel liked the timeliness of the acrobatic play, which came after Pikesville’s Sae’kno Brown (nine points) converted Eric Deluison’s pass to make it 45-41 with 1:29 left in the third period.
“I see it all the time. When it comes to dunking nobody is better than Justin and when it comes to passing, nobody is better than Danny,” Daniel said.
In the first half, nobody scored better than Pikesville’s Jamelle Christian, who had 16 of his team-high 18 points.
Although Pikesville fell behind 21-12 after a pair of three-pointers by Keith Wainwright, Christian made two free throws that gave the Panthers a 28-27 lead with 1:37 left in the second quarter.
New Town responded with a 5-0 run, on a three-pointer by Kenny Sherrod and putback by Brown, to close the half with a 32-28 lead.
The Titans sealed the deal by sinking 14 of 16 free throws in the second half.
The slick ball-handling Shand made six of eight free throws in the final 71 seconds and his coach wasn’t surprised.
“We prepare for these kind of moments and so far we’ve responded to the moment,” Daniel said.
Pikesville coach Anthony Dorsey praised his squad’s effort, but was impressed with the Titans, who beat the Panthers by 20 during the regular season.
“I give it to New Town,” he said. “It just seemed like they were just hungry. They crashed the boards and executed their offense. Tonight they were just the better team.
“We were in the game pretty much the whole game so I’m proud of the guys,” Dorsey said. “We weren’t expecting to come this far.”