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HCC needs to rebound

January 23, 2001

HCC needs to rebound



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


The Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team is having trouble sitting after last weekend, especially after Sunday.

"Allegany just spanked Hagerstown," HCC coach Jim Brown admitted, matter of factly, after the Hawks fell victim to a 105-67 ambush by the No. 12-ranked Trojans at the HCC athletic complex.

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The rout completed 21 hours of continuous flogging for the Hawks - the form of corporal punishment which has left Brown and the team wondering if it is up to competing for Region XX's berth in the NJCAA national tournament.

It started out as a weekend where HCC wanted to check just where it stands among Maryland JuCo teams. Garrett came to Hagerstown on Saturday night before Allegany on Sunday afternoon - each major contenders for the region's two entries in March's district tournament.

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When they left, it left the Hawks rubbing their hind quarters. HCC lost to Garrett in overtime, just 18 hours prior to being taken behind the woodshed by Allegany.

"We scheduled the games like this because this is what we will probably have to go through to win the district," Brown said. "We will probably have to beat Garrett on the night before we'd have to beat Allegany. I'm glad we did it and I'd do it again."

Only to different results.

HCC (16-4) had been on a roll, tearing through the usual suspects of the Maryland JuCo Conference until running into the league's power teams this weekend. It became a case of the Hawks believing their accomplishments and forgetting the things that got them to that level of success.

"I don't know when was the last time we played two games so badly," Brown said. "It seems like our offense is heading south. You go through these periods during a basketball season, but you hope you do it against teams that you can still beat without playing your best game."

HCC just literally forgot its offense. Against Allegany, the Trojans were a picture of precision and patience while the Hawks pushed the ball down the floor and took the first available shot. The more precise Allegany got, the more unorganized HCC looked as each player tried to take things in his own hands.

"They had a disciplined offense and stayed with it," Brown said. "I had players who wanted to win but didn't stay in the offense. They wanted to do it themselves. If anything is going south, it's our offensive play. We've done well all season breaking down opposing defenses ... that's not what we saw (Sunday). It was a case of patience and that's a hard thing to do."

Garrett and Allegany unveiled a new tactic this weekend, a double-team of HCC point guard Eric Branham, the central figure in the Hawks offense. Branham hasn't been able to break through and has been held in check while no other HCC players has stepped up to take the go-to role while turning the offensive set into a playground free-for-all.

The losses put HCC in a precarious situation. It has to reach the Region XX finals to earn the second district berth. With Sunday's victory, Allegany is guaranteed the top berth and the right to host the district tournament.

It leaves much work to be done for the HCC. There's no buts about it.

"Basketball is a journey," Brown said. "And when you can't stay with a team like Allegany, it's time to break it down. We have to stand back and see what we need to do. We need to get back to playing offense as a team like we have because we aren't going to overpower anyone. We have to play better and hope to catch them on a mediocre day to beat them."

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