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HCC women's win not imaginary

February 09, 1999

BY BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

FREDERICK, Md. - Hagerstown Community College women's basketball coach Marlys Palmer would not have scripted the Hawks game with Frederick Community College the way it turned out.

She would not have imagined the Hawks coming from one point down in the waning moments of the first half to build a nine-point lead with Molly Schoenberg nursing an injured ankle on the bench.

And, she never would have imagined freshman forward Tia Ferguson stepping in and netting 20 points and 13 rebounds as Hagerstown held off a furious Frederick rally late in the game to come away with a 62-58 win.

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It was the first time in eight years that the Hawks defeated the Cougars at home.

"This was a really huge win for us," Palmer said. "Actually, the deck was stacked against us for this game, but our team played through all the distractions."

And the distractions were many for HCC (19-5, 13-2 Maryland JuCo). The Hawks had to face some unexpected adversity before they could challenge the JuCo's No. 1 team. In the span of 24 hours, the Hawks lost a starting point guard in Judy Zimmerman, and Schoenberg, the team leader in rebounds, went down with an ankle sprain. And although Palmer gave Shanna Williams the nod to replace Zimmerman, it left the Hawks without depth at the playmaking spot.

But Williams was up to the challenge, and she rallied the Hawks several times late in the game with some deft ball handling in the clutch.

"I talk to myself before every game, and Coach Palmer told me that whatever it is I say to tell myself to stay focused and do the things I can do," Williams said.

"We didn't want Shanna to think she had to win the game or anything like that," Palmer said. "We needed her to stay calm and run the offense."

And this time, that offense was directed at the Hawks' big people under the boards. Ferguson, along with Schoenberg, LaShay Bailey and Quitta Scott, accounted for 50 points. But it was their dominating rebounding that helped first build a 21-point lead in the second half and then helped HCC hang on late in the game as the Cougars rallied behind five 3-pointers by Meaghan Beall.

Beall's heroics brought Frederick all the way back to trail only 61-58 with 12 seconds remaining. But a Molly Schoenberg free throw iced the game.

"We were pretty lackadaisical after the half," Cougars forward Dishawn King said, referring to a 14-minute stretch during which HCC went ahead, 56-35. "Those 3s that Meaghan hit really changed the tempo of the game."

So much so that the Cougars had a 23-6 run in the last five minutes of the game, and held the Hawks without a field goal for 7 1/2 minutes.

"We let them dictate the tempo for most of the game, and in the end, it hurt us," Frederick coach Jack Mehl said. "They killed us inside, but we missed some key shots also."

In fact, the Cougars missed two bonus situations with less than 30 seconds left that helped HCC hold on. But the Hawks outrebounded FCC, 41-17.

"We were committed to winning," HCC's Ferguson said. "We stayed calm in the clutch."

"This was a great game," King said. "I'm looking forward to playing them again."

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