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Hawks keep fighting, winning

February 14, 1999|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

For the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team, the past season has been a journey. Facing many challenges both on and off the court, the Hawks struggled early in the season, and coach Jim Brown wondered if the team would ever peak.

That question may have been answered in the last two games.

Continuing a trend that started with an earlier upset of Dundalk, the Hawks (19-7), behind James Fowler's 22 points, ran away from Montgomery-Rockville 92-83 Saturday night at the HCC athletic complex. LaVar Robinson added 18 points and dominated the boards as the Hawks knocked off another Maryland JuCo Conference front runner.

And although Brown stopped short of saying his team is peaking at just the right time with the Maryland JuCo tournament this weekend, the Hawks have certainly gained confidence against what were once considered superior foes.

"This game was simply a superb effort," Brown said. "These guys beat another great team and now, they should really be thinking about the tournament. We can make a statement there."

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The Hawks not only led for the entire second half, but they also beat a Knights team that last week took JuCo top dog Catonsville into overtime before losing. But Brown does not think the Hawks are out of their element; on the contrary, he feels HCC is more like an unwanted dinner guest.

"Nothing came easy for these kids this season," Brown said of the Hawks, who are only outscoring their opponents by a margin of just under seven points per game. "Our best basketball may just be ahead of us."

No one could prove Brown's analysis wrong against the Knights. Just before halftime with the score tied at 29-29, a Lionel Jackson layup put the Hawks ahead, and Fowler drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Hawks up by five. That short flurry - more than anything else - threw the normally confident Knights out of their game.

After halftime, HCC came out running, and in seven minutes had pushed the lead into double digits.

"We pushed the ball up the floor about as well as we have at anytime this year," Brown said. "Our guys responded to the challenge these tough teams have been giving them."

Tough was probably an understated way to describe the game. There were over 60 fouls whistled, and HCC alone went to the line 52 times.

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