Over the course of capturing five straight Baltimore County championships and winning 99 straight league games, the Milford Mill boys basketball team has always been able to do the little things that matter to best the competition.
Finally, on Monday, it was the other team's turn.
New Town has put together a more modest string of wins this season, but there was nothing quiet about the No. 7 Titans' 68-64 home win over the No. 4 Millers, who lost to a Baltimore County foe for the first time since December 2009 when Woodlawn handed them a defeat.
The Millers (12-5, 7-1 Baltimore County's Division 1) pulled within two points on three occasions with less than two minutes to play, only to see Titans senior Kenny Sherrod impressively respond. He first hit a jumper near the foul line to give the Titans (15-4, 8-0) a 64-60 lead with 1:19 to play, and then hit four straight free throws — the last two coming with six seconds left — to secure his team's 12th consecutive victory.
Soon after, the overflow crowd spilled onto the court in celebration.
"We just focused on defense, getting stops and Coach [Mike Daniel] told us if we make our free throws, we're going to come out with the win. We played defense, made the right stops, got to the free throw line and completed the free throw," said Sherrod, who finished with 15 points.
"[At the foul line].I just felt like if I want to win, I've got to hit the free throws and I knocked them down. It's a signature win. Shows what we have in us. It's a team effort we took to get this win."
The defending Class 3A state champion Millers were off their game and much of it was due to the effort from the Titans, who dominated the offensive boards throughout and scored 16 second-chance points. The Millers were led by junior guard Justin Jenifer, who had a game-high 22 points, but the team made just seven of 17 free throws.
"Streaks are meant to be broken. We fought hard I thought. We basically beat ourselves, personally, I think," Milford Mill coach Mike Silverman said. "It's tough. But the kids realize it's how you handle adversity is what makes you a stronger man we're going to do that — we're going to start a new streak on Wednesday."
Daniel commended a number of his players. There was senior Juwan Dorsey's hard work inside as he finished with 15 points and six rebounds. The shooting performance from senior Damien Hamler, who made five 3 pointers — the last one coming with 2:47 to play to give the Titans a 62-58 lead — and finished with a team-high 19 points. There was steady play from senior point guard Danny Shand, who finished with 11 points. And Sherrod, who was up for the task in the closing minutes.
The Titans, who reached the Class 1A state title game last season, have methodically shown how much they have grown after a 3-4 start this season.
"Great game. Tonight was our night. Tough game man, tough game man," Daniel said. "I'm so proud of these guys. They finally got it. We're slowing the ball down, running good offense and we're just doing a great job. We're maturing — we're basically a senior-based team, so I expect my seniors to play well and we are."
Hamler's second straight 3 pointer midway through the first quarter gave the Titans a 10-7 lead they would never relinquish. When Dorsey scored an inside basket from a feed by Shand with 4:54 to play in the game, the Titans had their biggest lead at 59-51.
But the Millers answered with a 7-0 run — Jenifer scored the first three points and later added an assist on a basket from Allen Costley (15 points) to cut the deficit to 59-58 with 3:06 to play. Typically in Milford Mill's long streak, the Millers would keep hold of the momentum to claim another win. But not this time with Hamler's brash 3 pointer 23 seconds later followed by Sherrod's poised work the rest of the way.
7 New Town 68, 4 Milford Mill 64
MM – Jenifer 22, Costley 15, Cooper 11, Brown 3, White Jr. 11, Charles 2. Totals: 27 7-17 64.
NT – Hamler 19, Dorsey 15, Shand 11, Sherrod 15, Smith 4, Hanks 2, Mack 2.Totals: 27 6-9 68.
Half: NT, 34-30Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun