COLLEGE PARK — The Class 1A state semifinal between New Town and Smithsburg was filled with momentum swings.
New Town, displaying a poised finishing touch, had the most important one.
Down five points with six minutes left, the Titans went on a 13-1 run to take charge and then hit their free throws to seal a 75-72 win over the Leopards of Washington County at the Comcast Center.
New Town (20-6) will return to College Park on Saturday to face two-time defending state champ and No. 1 Dunbar in a bid to capture the program's second title. Game time is set for 1 p.m.
Trailing 60-55 with 6:30 to play, the Titans turned to their trapping half-court press, while Devron Goodwyn (16 points, eight rebounds) and sophomore Danny Shand (17 points) provided much of the offense to surge ahead. After Goodwin hit consecutive baskets to cut Smithsburg's lead to 60-59 with 5:41 to play, Josh Gerard converted a three-point play with 5:30 left to give New Town the lead for good at 62-60. Shand followed with a steal and layup, and the Titans hit nine of 12 free throws in the final three minutes to secure the win.
"It feels good," said Goodwyn, who was ineligible last season. "It's my last year and I didn't play last year, so to make this run is great. Hopefully we can win it all."
The Titans know they have a big challenge ahead against Dunbar, but they aren't backing down.
"The keys are going to be handling the basketball and rebounding, and if we can do those things we have a chance," New Town coach Mike Salapata said. "We're not playing a best-of-seven. We're playing one game tomorrow — it's winner take all, and anything can happen in one game. Dunbar will get our best shot, I can tell you that."
In Friday's semifinal, the Titans had to overcome adversity at the end of the third quarter when they fell behind 54-50 as the Leopards (20-6) scored seven points on one possession. As Tyson Pierre was in the middle of hitting two free throws for Smithsburg, a Titan players was called for having an illegal game jersey and was called for a technical foul when he changed it near the bench. Jordan Fortson (23 points) hit the two technical foul shots and then drilled a 3-pointer as Smithsburg turned a three-point deficit into a 54-40 lead.
In the first half, two extended runs — one from each team — led to the Titans taking a 34-32 lead at intermission.
The Leopards' perimeter game initiated a 12-0 run early in the first quarter, and Fortson connected on 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to help build a 15-6 lead.
But the Titans responded at the end of the first quarter with baskets from Goodwyn and Keith Waineright to cut Smithsburg's lead to 18-14 after one. New Town then scored 11 of the final 13 points of the second quarter to claim the lead.
Jalen Clarke and Jacob Cornelius each finished with 12 points for the Titans.
NT—Shand 17, Goodwyn 16, Jones 2, Clarke 12, Cornelius 12, Brown 8, Waineright 2, Gerard 4, Wallace 2. Totals: 28 18-29 75.
S—Springs 20, Fortson 23, Spickler 8, Hardy 5, Sprecher 2, Pierre 6, Wynne 3, Hogue 3, Gibson 2. Totals: 21 20-24 72.
Half: NT, 34-32.