New Town girls beat outmatched National Academy Foundation, advance to 1A final

New Town's high-scoring guard, Sydney Hines, didn't get to play as much as she might have expected in the state semifinals on Wednesday, but that was OK with her.

"We got the win, our teammates got involved and we're on to the next level," Hines said after her Titans easily handled an overmatched National Academy Foundation team, 73-9, in the state Class 1A semifinals at Towson University's SECU Arena.

The Titans (21-5) rolled to a 23-0 lead over the Eagles, a Baltimore City team making its first appearance in the state tournament. NAF did not score a field goal until Candice Wise hit a 3-pointer with 2:22 left in the third quarter.

In their first trip to the state semifinals since 2007, the Titans had 10 players score, led by Hines with 17 points, Tiana Davis with 14 and Candis Taylor with 10.

They will play for the title Saturday at 6 p.m. against Southern of Garrett County, a 53-52 winner over Mardela in Wednesday's other semifinal. Southern (21-4) won the last of its two state titles in 2007. New Town won the title in 2005, but had to forfeit it for using an ineligible player.

It was clear from the start on Wednesday that the Eagles would not be able to keep up with the Titans. Hines, who had six assists, fed Destiney Taylor-Betts and Davis for layups in the first 37 seconds. NAF turned the ball over 17 times in the first quarter and 48 times in the game.

Taking a 25-1 lead into the second quarter, New Town coach Gena Young put all subs on the floor. For the rest of the game, she subbed freely and kept a mix of starters and subs until the final five minutes.

"Once we saw that we had a lead," she said, "we pulled them back and worked on things, worked on the little things that we need to work on like defense, closing out and rebounding, which we struggled with throughout the season."

Despite being on the losing end of perhaps the most lopsided game in girls state basketball tournament history (no records were available), the Eagles were thrilled with the opportunity to play in the state semifinals in their fourth year as a varsity program.

"I take a lot away from this, because I starated from ninth grade" senior Xena Davis said. "We used to play at the [Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center]. That was our home court, but after my tenth grade year, it was gone. We never had nothing — nothing — so this right here is a blessing."

The Eagles (14-7) played every game on the road and were wearing their home whites for the first time Wednesday night, because they were the higher seed as designated in a blind draw before the season.

Coach Nick Usher, a former assistant coach at Western, explained to his players how hard it can be to get back to the state tournament, but that they have more to look forward to, nonetheless. Last season, they reached the regional semifinals.

Davis, who led the Eagles with four points, said she hoped the experience will draw more players to the team.

"I think it's going to help the program," she said. "We're still regional champions. We lost this game, but we're still regional champions. I think a lot of girls are going to play, because they didn't even think we was going to make it this far."

New Town 73, NAF 9

NT— Taylor-Betts 6, Thompson 4, Smith 7, Hines 17, Davis 14, Taylor 10, Driver 7, Scribner 2, Young 4, Lewis 2. Totals 31 11-24 73

NAF— Miller 1, Davis 4, Fields 1, Wise 3. Totals 2 4-13 9.

Half: NT, 42-2.

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