Lady Hawks ready to reload

December 02, 1999|By JACK HILL III

Volleyball is not the only sport that Hagerstown Community College Hawks' coach Marlys Palmer can find ways to win.

Palmer has also won a bundle of championships and honors in women's basketball at HCC since she took over in 1979, when the Hawks only had six players during her first season as the coach.

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When Hagerstown set a single-season record for victories (27) last year, it was Palmer's ninth 20-win season. The Hawks won their fourth Maryland JuCo Conference Tournament championship and their second Region XX Tournament championship to qualify for the Division II national tournament, where the team finished seventh.

But Palmer does not want to compare this year's HCC team to the great teams of the past.

"I think that it is going to be a challenge," Palmer said. "I think that it's harder to play from the position of top dog than it is to play as the underdog. Last year, we finished as the top dog. We had so much success last year."


And for Palmer, that means this season will not be a cakewalk.

"It is real hard to come back after that kind of success," Palmer added. "The reason why that is so hard is because of how much that all of your opponents want to beat you. Our opponents will give us their best game. It doesn't give us a lot of room having an off day."

There are six players returning from last year's team, including Washington County natives Tia Ferguson (North Hagerstown) and forward-center Stacey Zeger (South Hagerstown). Both forward-guard Ebony Rector and guard Shanna Williams come from Manassas, Va. Guard-forward Kaylene Taylor is from Northumberland, Va., and forward-guard Ros Fisher comes from James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa.

"None of the returning girls were fulltime starters," Palmer said. "But all six of them played a lot last year. I think that it is the first time in a long time that we could start an all-sophomore lineup. It doesn't mean that we will do that. But we could."

Palmer has recruited five freshmen to give this year's team a total of 11 players. Heading this year's freshman class is guard-forward Brooke Russ, who helped lead South Hagerstown to a region championship during her sophomore year in 1995.

The other freshmen are guard Naomi Mason (North Hagerstown), guard Candice Tucker (Gettysburg, Pa.), center Lindsey Miller (McConnellsburg, Pa.) and forward-center Amy Fischer (Southern Fulton, Pa.).

"We are optimistic, because we have a nice squad," Palmer said. "But we don't want to compare with last year. We don't want last year's success to be the measuring stick for this year's team. We are going to let this year's team create its own identity. I think that defensive intensity will be the biggest question mark. We have to see if our team has the desire to play defense or not."

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