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HCC women grab crown

February 22, 1999|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

McHENRY, Md. - Molly Schoenberg has grabbed more than her share of rebounds during her basketball career.

But the one she clutched with only four seconds remaining Sunday sealed the Maryland JuCo championship for Hagerstown Community College and Most Valuable Player honors for herself in a 45-42 victory over Frederick at Garrett Community College. It was the Hawks' first state championship since 1990.

[cont. from sports page]

"This was a true team win in every sense of the word," HCC coach Marlys Palmer said. "We have seen so much growth in this team. I could not be any more proud."

And for the Hawks, a team that really just came together in the last month of the season, the win was the payoff for keeping their composure in the clutch and following the game plan. Hagerstown (25-5) has won 10 in a row since an upset loss at home to Allegany at the end of January.

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"We felt if our kids could keep it low scoring, we stood our best chance to win," Palmer said. "We needed to be able to handle (Dishawn) King and (Julie) Foltz and not get involved in a shootout."

The Hawks responded by holding King to six points, while Foltz, who was in foul trouble early on, scored eight. Frederick's Shaun Bell scored 14, but it wasn't enough to overcome the determination of the Hawks' big play offense that seemingly came up with a big basket everytime HCC needed it.

The game was an emotional battle from the start that pitted the top two JuCo heavyweights against one another on a floor that was hours from their regular battlefield. But the distance didn't dull the intensity as both teams used the first half to find out how far the other would go to win.

Frederick opened in the full court pressure defense it used to rattle the Hawks earlier this year. But the Hagerstown guards almost effortlessly moved the ball up the floor. HCC stayed packed in a tight zone and made some effort to deny the Cougars the perimeter.

Although turnovers abounded for each team, neither seemed to have the ability to take advantage of the miscues and turn them into points. HCC led 24-21 at the half, mostly on the strength of Judy Zimmerman's eight points and the inside play of Schoenberg, Tia Ferguson and Stacy Zeger.

In the second half, the biggest lead was seven, and that came with just under four minutes left as Shanna Williams drained a 25-footer and Schoenberg followed with a three-point play to spot the Hawks a 41-34 lead.

But, the lead didn't hold up as the Cougars came back behind back-to-back Foltz 3-pointers and an April Brooks layup to go ahead 42-41 with under two minutes.

It was then that Palmer set the plan and the Hawks worked it out.

Schoenberg gave HCC the lead with a putback and then was fouled with scant seconds remaining as the Cougars desperately threw up several long-range shots in an attempt to take the lead. She dropped both ends of the bonus through, and the celebrating began for Hagerstown.

"This team is so much fun to coach," Palmer said.

HCC's Quitta Scott, Zimmerman and Schoenberg made the all tournament team.

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