New Town kept making timely plays on both defense and offense to stay close against Catonsville in girls basketball Wednesday. Guard Candis Taylor came up with one of each in the final 10 seconds to help New Town pull out a tough victory.
Taylor tipped away a ball and caused a steal with eight seconds left and then scored the last of her game-high 23 points on a tie-breaking free throw with 1.6 seconds remaining that gave host New Town a 60-59 victory over No. 10 Catonsville.
The Comets appeared to be in command when getting back-to-back baskets from Jasmine Dickey (14 points) and Tiarra Horne — a 3-pointer that gave Catonsville (7-2) a 59-54 lead with 55 seconds left in the game. But that's when the Titans took over.
Marayiha Smith (14 points) made two free throws with 41 seconds to go that cut the lead to three before Paris Thompson (13 points) drilled a game-tying 3-pointer with 22 seconds left. Catonsville got the ball back and was trying for a last-second shot when Taylor tipped it away, picked it up and raced down the right wing. She was fouled and made the game-winning free throw before missing a second. Catonsville got the ball back with two-tenths of a second left but could not get a shot off.
"I was a little bit nervous [but] you just have to focus on making the shot," Taylor said. "I knew I had it."
Taylor's defensive play proved just as important. In fact, the New Town (8-1) defense kept the Titans in the game from start to finish. Catonsville started quickly, jumping out to a 16-7 lead in just over four minutes, and appeared to be on the verge of breaking things open.
But the Titans began playing more aggressively on defense and under the boards. On defense, they did a good job of forcing the Comets to slow the pace and repeatedly outrebounded them. The tough work on the boards let the Titans keep finding second chances and stopped Catonsville from doing that.
"They kept their composure; they just kept playing defense," New Town coach Gena Young said. "They just kept doing the little things."
Those little things, especially on defense, repeatedly broke up the Comets' rhythm and forced 25 turnovers. The mistakes kept coming and stopped Catonsville from going on any long runs.
Dickey's leg cramps also bothered her and the Comets. She came out midway through the third quarter and didn't really return full-time until about halfway through the fourth but the loss of the talented and versatile player hurt Catonsville.
New Town kept fighting and took the lead early in the fourth quarter thanks to three quick baskets from Thompson. But the Comets bounced back and scored seven straight points to take that five-point lead with just under a minute left.
All of that set the stage for Taylor. She played a big role in helping New Town stay close in the first half, The guard scored 11 points in the first two quarters, including a lay-up in the final seconds that gave the Titans a 27-25 halftime lead.
Taylor simply blew by the Catonsville defense on that last play. That was something Catonsville coach Mike Mohler saw too much of throughout the game.
"I didn't think that was our best defensive effort," Mohler said. "They made a whole lot more plays than we did. I give them a lot of credit."
New Town 60, Catonsville 59
C-Barrett 16, Gast 12, Daniels 4, G. Douglas 5, Bennett 1, Dickey 14, Horne 7. Totals: 23 9-15 59.
N-Garrison 8, Kosh 1, Taylor 23, Richards 1, Thompson 13, Smith 14. Totals: 24 8-16 60. Half: NT, 27-25.