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Hawks take off for season of high expectations

December 04, 1996

By JACK HILL III

Staff Correspondent

The Hagerstown Junior College women's basketball team opens its season tonight with high expectations and low numbers, a combination that concerns coach Marlys Palmer.

"I think that we have a monkey on our back, because they ranked us eighth in the (Division II national) preseason poll," Palmer said. "When that information first came out, things looked a lot different than they look now. That poll came out a month ago when I had 12 players on my roster. Since then, three of the people have decided to not come out for the team. All of a sudden, I am down to just nine players."

HJC has four sophomores and five freshmen. The leader is sophomore forward Heather Aleshire of Clear Spring, a co-captain along with guard Tana McGee of Fannett-Metal High School in Franklin County, Pa. The other sophomores are forward Carrie Craft (South Hagerstown) and guard Tracy Bishop (Clear Spring).

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The freshmen are guard Toni DeStefano (Tyrone, Pa.), guard-forward Georgette Palmer (Williamsport), center Kim Reid (Williamsport), guard-forward Megan Shives (Clear Spring) and forward-center Marisa Hardy (North Hagerstown).

Hardy is ineligible because she did not earn enough credits in the spring semester, so HJC will not be at full strength for at least the first month of the season. To make matters worse, Reid has been sick all week and hasn't practiced.

That means the Hawks could be down to seven healthy bodies when they take on Montgomery-Rockville, a Division III power, this evening at 7 in Rockville.

"It is real hard at this time to talk about the outlook of the season, because of the circumstance of events that have happened in the last few weeks," Palmer said. "I think that the nine players that we do have when we get them all eligible and all healthy look like they can be a pretty good group.

"Sometimes when you have a small number of players, they can be a close-knit group," Palmer added. "Lansing, Michigan, won the national tournament on our home court last year with just six players. A small group of players can get to know each other and then they can work better together."

On the bright said, Palmer said, "We seem to have pretty good instincts for the game. I think we have a couple of people that can shoot pretty well."

Palmer said the Hawks will try to make up for a size deficit by playing at a fast pace. But chemistry on the floor might take a while because several of the players also were members of the HJC volleyball team, and weren't able until recently to practice with the basketball team.

"We have had a lot of adversity thrown our way before the season has even started," Palmer said. "I think being ranked eighth in the nation is adversity, because it might create expectations that people might not have had if it wasn't for the ranking. But we're going to try to get this group to come together and help them believe in themselves. We are going to play with a lot of determination."

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