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HCC to play Westchester in District semis

March 06, 2001

HCC to play Westchester in District semis



By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team did half the job last weekend but got twice the reward.

The Hawks advanced to the finals of the Region XX tournament, earning them an automatic bid to this weekend's Northest District III tournament, to be played at Allegany College in Cumberland. And they might get a third shot at arch-rival Allegany.

HCC will play Westchester (N.Y.) in the semifinal round of the districts Saturday at 1 p.m. If the Hawks win, nationally ranked Allegany could be looming in Sunday's finals. The Trojans must get past Champlain (Vt.) to renew the area rivalry.

"We feel real good about being going into the districts," HCC coach Jim Brown said. "If we beat Westchester, we get the reward of playing the best team in the East. Some people would say 'Some reward,' but it will be fun."

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And it sure beats the alternative. HCC responded to the pressure this weekend, needing to defeat Garrett Community College last Saturday to assure a invitation to the districts. Because Region XX is hosting the tournament, they receive two entries into the field.

The Hawks responded with a 93-79 victory over Garrett to advance to Sunday's a region final rematch with Allegany. The Trojans overpowered the Hawks, taking the 90-70 victory while giving coach Bob Kirk his 15th Region XX title.

If there was anything positive about the 20-point loss, it was the fact the Hawks improved on Jan. 21's 105-67 defeat to the Trojans. Between the two losses the Allegany, HCC (27-5) revived and won 11 straight games.

Before the Hawks can address Allegany III, they need to get past Westchester, a school that is trying to regain its standing among the national junior college elite.

"Historically, Westchester has been a great program," Brown said. "We haven't played them recently. They had a coach who was there for a long time, but he retired. Now they are trying to get back to where they were."

HCC got to where it is behind point guard Eric Branham, who leads the team with an 15.6 point average. Corey Tabron came on to have a strong region tournament, scoring 29 points in the two games.

The winner of this weekend's tournament will earn a berth in next week's the national NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.

Even with a trip to the nationals on the line, Brown doesn't plan to change his way of operating when it comes to prepare for the challenge ahead.

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