Lions go cold, fin­ish sea­son with­out same happy end­ing


The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - BY DAN ROTH dan.roth@wash­

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.

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