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NJCAA tips off today

March 17, 1999|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HCC waits to find out quarterfinal foe

As the final preparations are put in order for the NJCAA Division II Women's Tournament that opens today at Hagerstown Community College, the collection of basketball's best may look more like a reunion rather than the junior college version of March Madness.

[cont. from sports page]

But there's one party crasher to the festivites, which tip off today at noon. And that just happens to be the team that's always here.

The HCC Hawks, making their first national tournament appearance since 1983, are playing at 6:30 on Thursday after receiving a first-round bye. They will play the winner between Mott C.C. (22-11) from Flint, Mich., and North Central Missouri (25-5) from Trenton, Mo.

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Teams from 10 states are represented, and that is the one thing that makes this tournament so interesting - matchups between teams that have no common opponents during the season.

"I'm sure it makes it a difficult job to coach in this tournament," tournament director Brian Beck said. "When you see the quality of these teams, you are very impressed."

And that's where all the old names come back into the picture. Three teams in the tournament have been mainstays in the '90s and return as favorites this year.

Illinois Central, the 1998 champion, comes in with a 30-2 record and three national championships since 1992. The Cougars face Mesa (Ariz.) C.C. at 8 today.

Two other favorites include Kirkwood College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Kankakee (Ill.) Community College. Kirkwood, the 1997 champion will not play until 2 on Thursday. Kankakee, the 1995 champion and two-time runner-up will play at 2 today against Mercer C.C. from Trenton, N.J.

The tournament will run today through Saturday at the HCC athletic complex and conclude with the championship game at 8 on Saturday evening.

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