Defensively, the New Town boys basketball team came ready to play in Friday's Class 1A state semifinal against Brunswick.
When the offense caught up in the third quarter, the No. 9 Titans had the necessary mix to secure a return visit to Saturday's state championship game.
Senior Justin Brown scored 23 points and junior Danny Shand finished with 16 as New Town earned a 52-44 win over Brunswick at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center. The duo combined for 15 points in the pivotal third quarter.
New Town (22-3) will meet No. 1 Dunbar, a 70-41 winner over Washington in the other semifinal, in the Class 1A title game, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Comcast Center. The Titans, who won their only state title in 2007, lost to the Poets, 60-36, in the final last year.
After shooting just 28 percent from the field to take a 16-11 lead at halftimoe, the Titans took control of the game with a more efficient third quarter.
New Town outscored the Railroaders (16-10), from Frederick County, 18-9, in the quarter to build a 34-20 lead that stayed at double digits for most of the fourth quarter.
The Titans finished with 14 steals and five blocks, but first-year coach Mike Daniel was more concerned with the inconsistent play throughout the game.
"I think we got away with a win — period," said Daniel, who led City to back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.
With the five-point lead at the start of the second half, the Titans made plays similar to what helped them advance to the state semifinals.
Brown dominated inside early in the third quarter, dunking off a feed from Keith Wainwright in transition. Shand then hit a 3-pointer with 4:56 left in the quarter to give the Titans a 26-16 lead. Shand scored six more points in the period, and his spinning drive in the final seconds gave New Town its biggest lead, 34-20.
The Railroaders hit four late 3-pointers to keep the score close in the fourth quarter.
Despite not playing as well as they hoped, the Titans are ready for Saturday's rematch against Dunbar.
"I really felt toward the middle of the season, we were going to end up being here," said Brown, who also had 14 rebounds for New Town. "It's been hard — tears and blood — but finally we're here, and we have to finish it."
Daniel echoed the sentiment of the Titans' leading scorer.
"So now we're here, no excuses [Saturday]," he said. "We have to come with our 'A' game because if we don't — no matter who plays in the other bracket — it's going to be a long night. So hopefully we come out [Saturday] and just stick with what got us here.
"Defense got us here, tenacity got us here. And I think [Saturday], if we do that and hit our free throws and be patient with the basketball, we're right there."
(at College Park)
9 New Town 52, Brunswick 44
NT – Shand 17, Brown 23, Sherrod 2, Wainwright 6, Magginson 4. Totals: 18 12-27 52.
B – Howard 8, Hossler 3, Darling 10, Price 7, Fawley 8, Axline 8. Totals: 17 5-9 44.
Half: NT, 16-11Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun