March 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Frederick Community College withstood the flash of Hagerstown Junior College's pressure defense and used patience and solid halfcourt defense - aided by a late 14-0 run in the second half - Sunday to lift the Cougars over the Hawks, 76-62, in the Region XX Division II women's basketball championship at the HJC athletic complex.

With the victory, Frederick won its second trip in three years to the National Junior College Division II tournament. It will be played March 19-22, also at HJC.

"We told the kids we wanted to play the game in the 60s," Mehl said. "We can't play up there in the 90s. We did a good job of controlling the game. (HJC) strives off their pressure defense. We just tried to stay ahead."


That, in itself, wasn't easy for Frederick (21-9). HJC used its zone press to take a seven-point lead in the first half and an eight-point edge in the second half before the Cougars mounted comebacks.

In each instance, the Hawks' pressure bothered FCC, but the Cougars fought back on the strength of halfcourt defense to slow the pace.

Frederick came back from a 50-42 deficit to tie the game at 52 on Allyson Merico's layup. Angie Levarto hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 55-52 lead with 7:23 remaining. A foul shot by Georgette Palmer and a layup by Heather Aleshire tied the game at 55.

FCC's Carrie Brown hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:17 remaining to start the decisive 14-0 run over the next 4:09, leading Frederick to a 69-55 advantage. Aleshire and Toni DeStefano, HJC's top two threats, each picked up their fourth fouls in the run to limit their effectiveness and change the complexion of the game.

"You have to go with what brought you and the press was our bread and butter," HJC coach Marlys Palmer said. "We won 15 straight with it during the season. When you run a press, it's tricky to make a judgment of when to pull back. I felt like when Heather and Toni got their fourth fouls, it took them away from what they do best."

Without the press, HJC's offense became ineffective and each missed shot just added to the frustration. Finally, Aleshire fouled out with 1:12 remaining, followed by DeStefano 31 seconds later, ending the Hawks' hopes.

Levarto led all scorers with 24 points for FCC. Merico added 20 while tournament MVP Judy Whims scored 14. Aleshire had 23 and DeStefano had 14 for HJC.

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