New Town point guard Martaz Robinson knows his responsibilities as the Titans’ senior leader.
He needs to set the example and get teammates involved. And, sometimes, he has to take over a game.
That was the case Thursday night as the No. 7 Titans were struggling to shake off young Meade at the 24th annual Baltimore City Public Schools Basketball Academy at Morgan State’s Hill Field House.
With the score tied at 24 at halftime, Robinson, a three-year starter, scored nine of his team-high 19 points in the second half to help the Titans pull out a 58-52 win over the Mustangs.
After a season-opening loss to Edmondson, New Town has won six straight to improve to 6-1. The junior-laden Mustangs, with a new starting five and making their first appearance at the Academy, showed themselves well in falling to 4-6. Junior guard Delonte Johnson finished with a game-high 20 points.
A two-minute stretch early in the third quarter belonged to Robinson. His two free throws, a follow basket, a 3-pointer and a steal started an 11-0 run that put the Titans up for good.
“As a senior, I’m starting to understand that I have to take over the game to help my team," Robinson said. “So in the second half, I came out strong to set a tone because we wanted to win the game.”
The Titans have another senior in All-Metro forward Andrew Mills, who did his share in closing out the win in the fourth quarter after battling foul trouble early. After Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter and teammate Omar Beattie made a putback midway through the quarter, the Titans’ lead was cut to 48-45 with 4:37 to play.
Mills answered with a follow of his own at the other end and made two free throws to put the Titans back up 52-45. He finished with 14 points.
For Meade coach Mike Glick and his Mustangs, who have 12 juniors on the roster, this season is one for growth. Hanging tough against a ranked opponent showed that they grew plenty Thursday. Beattie finished with 10 points and Devin Barksdale had a strong first half to finish with eight points before fouling out.
“This got us better — that’s the purpose of coming here,” Glick said. “I was very happy with our intensity, and when we hit shots, we’re a much better team. [New Town is] an excellent team and I was very proud of our effort. I thought our kids competed.
"This is a tremendous opportunity. It’s great for us to get out of Anne Arundel County, see some different competition and everything the Academy entails academically — tremendous experience, and we’ll definitely be back.”
New Town returns to the Academy on Saturday to take on Henry Wise at 7 p.m.
Robinson said that the team heard talk after losing its first game, but the Titans weren’t listening.
“Everybody was doubting us and telling us how we weren’t going to be good this year, but I told my teammates that’s not just a loss, but it was a lesson,” he said. "After that, we’ve been coming out strong and finishing strong.”
Friday’s five-game slate at the Academy will start at 3 p.m. with the Randallstown boys taking on New Era.
In addition, two of the area’s top girls teams will meet when No. 2 Poly takes on No. 10 Pikesville at 5:40 p.m. before Day 2 closes with the No. 3 City boys putting their undefeated mark on the line against Milford Mill at 8:20.
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Rock Creek Christian 72, No. 6 Lake Clifton 67: Trailing 37-26 at the half, the Lakers (6-4) rallied to pull within three when Zaccheus Blackwell hit a 3-pointer with 3:52 to play in the third quarter.
But the Eagles from Upper Marlboro, who got a game-high 31 points from senior Delonnie Hunt, scored the next 13 points to restore order and fended off another Lakerts rally in the closing minutes to secure the win.
Jalen Morris scored a team-high 19 points for the Lakers, who also got 18 points from Michael Gray and 15 from Blackwell. Lake Clifton will take on Oxon Hill at 8:20 p.m. Saturday in the Academy nightcap.