New Town boys basketball coach Mike Daniel has had a simple philosophy go a long way in his 29 years of coaching in the area.
Covering tenures at Towson Catholic, and then City before a one-year stop at Severn last season and this one at New Town, Daniel matter-of-factly states what the foundation has been the same for the success all of his teams over the years.
"We just play hard and live and die by defense," he said.
Fittingly, on the night he won his 500th career game, New Town was able to offset visiting Randallstown's size advantage with quickness and dogged defense. In the closing minutes, some poise was also needed as the Titans came away with a 69-60 win over the No. 11 Rams in Wednesday's regular-season finale.
The win was a big one on another front as the Titans (19-2, 11-1) clinched first place in Baltimore County's 2A-1A division to claim a spot in the county title game. New Town will travel to Class 4A-3A division winner Milford Mill at 7 p.m. Tuesday to take on the four-time defending county champs. Guard Daniel Shand scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Titans with Tim Hanks adding 18 and Justin Brown finishing with 16. For Daniel, who won four Baltimore Catholic League tournament titles at Towson Catholic (1998-2001) and then two state titles at City (2009-10), the milestone couldn't have come at a better time.
"It's wonderful, especially for the coaches and myself — we've been together for a long time and we like this feeling," said Daniel, referring to his long-time assistant coaches Tony Biggers and Derrick Wise.
In a showdown to determine which team would make next week's county title game, the matchup appeared to give an advantage to the visiting Rams (17-5, 10-2) with their bigger size, but it was New Town's quickness that proved to be the difference. The Titans hounded the ball defensively and fearlessly attacked the rim on offense to build a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter. But the Rams, who have had a number of fourth-quarter rallies, made another formidable one on Wednesday, going on a 12-2 run to tie the game at 49 with 5:11 to play.
It prompted a timeout from Daniel and then Shand took it from there. He finished off a strong drive to make it 51-49 on the possession that ensued to start 13-2 answering run to put the game away. Brown had a thunderous follow dunk with 4:08 to play; Shand went on to score six more points and Hanks added five to close the game out.
"Coach told us defense was going to win the game and that's what happened. We're a family, we played together and this was a great team win for us," Shand said.
New Town 69, Randallstown 60
R – Cooke 11, Wilson 17, Varner 4, Smith 6, Heard 13, Robinson 7, Manning 2. Totals: 20 14-25 60.
NT – Hanks 18, Brown 16, Shand 21, Dorsey 8, Smith 2, Sherrod 2, Hamler 2. Totals: 24 19-25 69
Half: NT, 26-19Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun