Seventh-seeded Prince Georges got HCC into a slower-paced game and stayed in the contest with the deliberate play, sticky defense and rebounding. And the Hawks couldn't buy a basket with a cents-off coupon.
Everytime the second-seeded Hawks (23-5) tried to apply the gas to speed up the game, PG pulled on the reins. But HCC survived to move into tonight's semifinal game against Cecil at 7. The Seahawks beat Frederick, 86-60.
"Every year, there's a team that matches up well against you and feels like they can beat you," Brown said. "PG is that team for us. The longer you permit them to hang around, they will give you a tough night."
HCC found out first hand.
The two teams battled through 13 ties in the first half as neither team owned more than an eight-point lead. Mark Jennings followed up a miss with six seconds remaining in the half to give HCC a 41-39 halftime lead.
The waltz continued in the second half as neither team seemed to be able to handle the ball and HCC couldn't score unless it was off a rebound.
With the score tied at 56-56, suddenly HCC's pressure took hold and made the Hawks combustible.
Jernavis Draughn broke the ice with a layup at the 10:44 mark and Terell Kittelberger scored nine of his 15 points in a two-minute span to give HCC a 71-59 lead. Draughn was the kindling to ignite the Hawk offense with his work around the basket and his passing.
"Jernavis was fumbling and bumbling around in the first half," Brown said. "In the second half, he shot better and passed the ball well. One of the key points was a pass he made to Jennings for a three-point play."
HCC maintained a 14-point lead until the Owls scored nine points in 16 seconds - six coming consecutively on two of Marcus Collins' seven 3-pointers - to get within 81-76 with 1:16 remaining. The Hawks closed out the win by hitting six straight foul shots.
Draughn finished with 22 while Darius Hargrove added 17 as HCC placed five players in double figures. Collins led Prince George's with 23.
"We changed our press and starting pressuring and doubling them more," Brown said. "We caused two quick turnovers and then it was too late (for PG) to call time. Our execution at the end was good."
HCC 90, Prince Georges 85
PRINCE GEORGES (85)
Terrell 5 1-4 13, Collins 7 2-2 23, Hill 6 2-3 14, Jackson 3 1-1 8, Robinson 5 3-3 13, Ellis 2 0-0 4, Southworth 1 1-2 3, Davis 1 2-4 4, Owens 1 1-2 3. Totals 31 13-21 85.
Kittelberger 6 1-2 15, Bennett 1 2-3 5, Thompson 6 0-1 12, Jennings 5 3-3 13, Draughn 9 4-7 22, Goodman 2 2-3 6, Hargrove 5 6-7 17. Totals 34 19-24 90.
Halftime - HCC 41, Prince Georges 39. Three-point goals - Prince Georges 10 (Collins 7, Terrell 2, Jackson), HCC 3 (Kittelberger, Bennett, Hargrove).