Lions go cold, finish season without same happy ending
NEW TOWN 61, LARGO 47
TOWSON, MD. — Even after playing her final game in a Largo uniform, Stephanie Guihon refused to put aside her leadership role. Her voice quaked, but the senior wouldn’t let the welling tears escape as she spoke to reporters while flanked by her wet-eyed teammates.
Though it was their second Maryland 2A state final appearance in as many years, the Lions came out with what Coach Ayana Ball-Ward called “championship-game jitters” Saturday.
The shots weren’t falling for No. 19 Largo as New Town, fueled in part by five early Lions turnovers, scored the first 11 points. From there, the Titans never looked back as they cruised to a 61-47 victory at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
“It was frustrating, but my teammates had my back,” Guihon said of her early shooting woes. “They told me to keep attacking, keep doing what I do. So it was tough when you’re in such a high-stakes game and it doesn’t go your way, but when you have teammates that rally around you, it makes it easier to keep going.”
Guihon scored a team-high 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, while teammate Assata Reid (six points, seven rebounds and three steals) put in a well-rounded effort before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
But the Lions’ offense on the whole never really found its groove. New Town threw several defensive looks at them, with its box-and-one getting the job done early. The Titans succeeded in keeping Largo off balance with a variety of compressed zone sets that barricaded the paint, where Largo likes to do its damage.
Khariah Kosh chipped in 14 points and 15 rebounds for New Town, and her seven offensive boards paced the Titans to a five-point advantage in secondchance scoring.
The Titans (23-5) had plenty of motivation after losing to Largo by 20 points in the semifinals last year. They also felt liberated playing the role of spoiler against the defending champion.
“We wanted to beat them last year,” said Maraiyah Smith, who scored a game-high 20 points. “Since we didn’t, we came back this year, and we knew what we had to do.”
Largo (19-7) was unable to coax New Town out of the defensive paint, with no shots falling other than layups. The Lions’ first basket from midrange or beyond came in the final minutes of the game, and they made only 16 of 31 free throws.
“Largo’s the defending state champs, and they had more pressure than us,” New Town Coach Rich Hibbert said. “There was no pressure on us.”
The result wasn’t what they hoped for, but Lions players said they still could feel good about their season-long journey to another finals appearance.
“These girls deserve everything they’ve gotten thus far,” Ball-Ward said. “They’ve had a long, hard season fighting through injuries and just getting team continuity.”
“I’m just proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Guihon said. “We came a long way.”
Tamiya Ford and Largo struggled against New Town’s defense in the Maryland 2A girls’ title game.