New Town Girls Basketball Aiming for First State Title

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First year New Town girls basketball head coach Richard Hibbert says he's been getting compared a lot to Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr lately.

The comparison comes as a result of both coaches taking over programs that were already succeeding before they arrived there. When Kerr replaced Mark Jackson, many of the pieces Golden State would use to win the NBA Championship in 2015 were already there.

Although the comparison is clearly flattering, Hibbert doesn't see think it's a perfect one. A winning culture within the program had been established by former head coach Gena Young, who led the Titans to the 1A state final game in 2014 and a regional title in 2016.

In terms of personnel though, it's a completely different New Town team this season.

"I have one returning starter and the sixth man from last year. Last year they played a seven man rotation, and five out of the seven were seniors. Three were All-County," Hibbert said. "My roster is built around underclassmen that didn't play as much, two returners that played significant time and JV players that moved up."

It's been a winning combination for New Town, who won its second straight regional title and will face Kent Island tomorrow at 3 PM in a MPSSAA 2A state semifinal contest. The Titans are 21-5 this season, and in addition to winning the 2A North crown, claimed the Baltimore County championship as well.

The team's go to player has been senior shooting guard Maraiyah Smith, who is a first team All-County selection. A team captain, Smith averages 20.2 points a game and has been lethal from beyond the arc, burying 43% of her attempts.

Senior point guard Ajar Garrison has also had a strong season, which earned her a second team All-County selection. Also a team captain, Hibbert described Garrison as the Titans' floor general. She's averaging 6.3 points and 5.2 assists a game.

Senior forwards Ahriyah Richardson and Khariah Kish have also been key players for New Town. Richardson averages 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game, but it's on defense where she makes her biggest impact. She's averaging 3.4 steals per game, and is the group's defensive MVP.

Kish was described by Hibbert as a swiss army knife that's capable of impacting a game in a variety of ways. She's averaging 9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals a game. Kish has also been effective from the free throw line, hitting 92% of her attempts.

The Titans will need all of its core players to step up if the group wants to be successful tomorrow against Kent Island. The Buccaneers are having a standout season, and currently hold a 25-1 mark.

It won't be the first big game for New Town this season. The Titans managed to pull out wins against Milford Mill and Catonsville, both of which are still alive in the MPSSAA state playoffs. Still, Hibbert expects Kent Island to be as tough a team as his team has faced this season.

"Kent Island is an uptempo team that likes to get up and down the court in transition. They score a lot of points," Hibbert said. "I'm expecting a low scoring game if we can take care of the ball and limit their transition points."

If New Town gets past Kent Island, the Titans will square off with either Marriotts Ridge or the defending state champion, Largo. It'll be a great opportunity for this year's Titans to become what no other New Town team has been able to- state champions.

"It would mean a lot to win states. It would be the first in school history for girls basketball," Hibbert said. "Our mottos all year have been 'One game at a time' and 'Seniors live your legacy.'"
March 9th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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