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HCC gets another crack at JuCo title

February 17, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

If the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team were Wildcats, Tigers, Leopards or Lions, they'd have nine lives.

But they are Hawks. They only have two lives. Now, it's coming down to do-or-die time.

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The Hawks' season will last for as long or as short as it would like starting tonight at 8 when the Hawks play Harford in the first round of the Maryland JuCo Conference at the HCC athletic complex.

A loss will put the Hawks out of the four-day, 15-team tournament, which began Wednesday with three first-round games. A win puts HCC a step closer to a possible meeting with top-seeded Allegany, the nation's fourth-rated team, Sunday at 2 p.m.

A loss will leave HCC with one last shot to salvage the season, next week's Region XX tournament. A win would begin to answer a lot of questions for coach Jim Brown.

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"Can the Baby Hawks do it and become men," Brown said. "That's what we are talking about. The time for excuses are over. It's time to perform."

The Hawks will be forced to perform out of an unusual spot, as the sixth seed in the field. HCC has been accustomed to being one of the top three seeds in the state tournament over the years. The honor usually includes a bye in the first round and an easier trip to the finals.

But a freshman-laden team - with just four sophomores, including one returning player in David Covington - has left Brown with some mixed emotions.

"I'm glad we are in the top part of the middle of the pack," he said. "If we had finished as the third or fourth seed, I'd be happier. We lost a lot of those games, but we did it by contributing to our own demise in those games because we lacked the ability to focus in those points of the game. I don't question that we want to win. I question whether we know how to win."

For the Hawks, the work of an entire season that lacks fulfillment could come down to the Maryland JuCo and the Region XX tournaments. The time for proof is running out.

"There is a lot of pressure to play here," Brown said. "Our fans have high expectations and there are expectations set by their predecessors. If we give it our best shot, and play with our brains along with our ability, we should be all right."

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