Class 1A boys

New Town claims 1st championship

Thomas leads Titans with 25 points, 28 rebounds

New Town 74 Dunbar 69

Boys basketball

State basketball championships

March 11, 2007|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun reporter

College Park -- When top-scoring teammates Stuart Clarke and Daniel DeSousa fouled out in the fourth quarter and first overtime, respectively, of yesterday's Class 1A state title game with defending champ Dunbar, New Town center William Thomas said, "I was scared."

Making matters worse for Thomas was that objects 10 feet in front of him are blurred without his glasses, and he doesn't wear contacts during games.

"I kept asking my teammates what the score was since I can't see the scoreboard," Thomas said. "But the ball's big and round, and I generally know where the basket is. I figured, `Let me keep hustling, keep putting it up there, and I've got a 50-50 chance.' "

Judging from the results, Thomas should play with fear and, in his words, "blind" more often.

Thomas grabbed 28 rebounds, blocked five shots and scored 25 points to lead New Town to its first state title with a 74-69 double-overtime victory over the 11-time champion Poets at Comcast Center.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior's 28 rebounds were three off the 27-year-old tournament record, and he scored 13 of his points in overtime, including the first 10 of 12 points by the Titans (23-3) in the second extra session against the Poets (16-6).

"It was like I was in a zone," Thomas said. "I couldn't hear the crowd. All I could see was the basket and that big, round ball."

Clarke, a sophomore, and DeSousa, a senior, scored 12 points each. Both Kendrick Brown (14 points, 20 rebounds, three steals) and Ralph Brown (four points, four assists, two steals) contributed in a game that featured 11 lead changes and seven ties after Dunbar had taken its first lead, 56-55, on a free throw by Kenyon Kinard with 30 seconds left in regulation.

Sophomore Corey Spence (16 points), Eric Barksdale (13), Tavon Austin (11) and Maurice Portee (10) paced Dunbar, which lost for only the third time in 14 final appearances over the past 15 years.

"We needed to make less mistakes," Barksdale said. "We needed to miss a few less baskets and to do better at the free-throw line."

Dunbar trailed by as many as 21 points (39-18) early in the third quarter, in which it out-scored the Titans 15-5 to come within 41-33 entering the fourth. A free throw by Kinard gave Dunbar its first lead, 56-55, with 30 seconds left in regulation. But with three seconds left, two free throws by DeSousa sent the game into the first overtime.

The first overtime featured five lead changes and five ties. Thomas' put-back had the Titans up 62-60 with 30 seconds left, but Spence's layup forced yet another overtime with the game tied at 62.

Thomas' put-back with 54 seconds left in the second overtime gave New Town a permanent lead, 70-69. Thomas said he had been "chewed out" by his father following Friday night's 62-55 semifinal win over Snow Hill, during which he scored only three points to go with 10 rebounds. Thomas ran into the stands to find his father after the game, "but I couldn't find him," he said.

Not only did New Town avenge a semifinal loss of a year ago, but it also defeated the Poets for the second time, the other an 80-77 victory on Dec. 29. The Titans also beat Baltimore County rival Randallstown, which played in last night's 2A title game against Fairmont Heights of Prince George's County.

"After being here last year, this was business. This means that we're here, and that we've arrived after not getting any respect from anybody all season long," said coach Mike Smith, who hoisted the state championship trophy during the post-game news conference.

"People said we didn't play anybody. Kids on our team got snubbed in the voting for All-County teams. But after just getting here last year, we were determined to win it all."

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

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