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Hawks left to ponder Allegany loss-HCC followup

March 05, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

In the end, all the Hagerstown Community College basketball team could do is sit and stare on Sunday.

The game was over. The presentations were done. The Hawks - to a man, coaches and players alike - were motionlessly glued to their seats as if all feeling left their bodies and all reality had left their heads.

Their expressions were blank and their eyes were as empty as the athletic complex floor they had just finished playing on.

It wasn't so much that HCC lost the Region XX Division I tournament title to arch-rival Allegany College by an 81-73 count. It was more how it happened. And all the Hawks could do was imagine the celebration that could have been.

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After 39 minutes, 57 seconds of scrapping, fighting and extending themselves, the Hawks' season hinged on gravity and Darius Hargrove's wide-open, 3-point shot from 20 feet at the left side of the lane in a tied game.

The shot was away. The arc was true. But gravity lost the battle.

Hargrove's shot went halfway into the cylinder, but spun around the edges three times before ejecting like a jack-in-the-box. Pop goes the teaser.

Possible victory was gone ... Certain overtime was ahead.

Allegany and coach Bob Kirk, looking like the proud owners of a feline with just eight lives remaining, took it from there and made sure the overtime wasn't a close call by hitting three consecutive 3-point baskets to eliminate any more dramatics.

Now the Trojans pack and head to New York for district play. Meanwhile, the Hawks pack it in and head for some mental replay.

"We didn't get a good shooting percentage you need to win," Brown said, trying to be positive in a quiet lockerroom littered with sweaty uniforms and broken hopes. "When you don't shoot a good percentage, a lot of other things have to go right."

HCC did a lot right to push the No. 8 team in the nation to the limit. The Trojans had to work to handle HCC's baseline-to-baseline pressure, but were able to overcome 25 turnovers to live for another five minutes, let alone another day.

"We knew what our defensive scheme would be," Brown said. "At the beginning of the season, we compared our personnel and figured out what we needed to do if we had to play them four games. We made adjustments every game ... we made them have to all 94 feet of the floor today. To me, all four of the meets this year were great games."

Allegany forced a moderate tempo, just slow enough to hinder HCC. The largest lead of the game was eight points until the overtime. The Trojans, for the most part, were patient with their shot selection and more accurate with their shooting. A huge help was the inside play of tournament MVP Troy Godwin, who hit 13 of 22 shots - mostly power moves in the paint - for a game-high 29 points.

"We don't change what we do. We remain consistent," Kirk said. "The kids showed maturity and confidence. We didn't try to change anything. We have lost a lot of games like that. It's tough."

For HCC, the missed buzzer beater was the last in a trio of near misses against Allegany. After beating the Trojans in the first meeting in January, the Hawks lost three games to their biggest rival in the last three weeks by a combined 18 points.

For Allegany, it was a good workout for the upcoming national tournament.

"The great thing about this game was there wasn't any trash talking or cheap shots out there," Kirk said. "Everyone was out there to play. HCC has played a lot of teams out of the region. They are strong and they play hard. At this point of the season, you want to play teams like HCC."

And in reality, Brown wouldn't have it any other way than to face Allegany in the Region XX final.

Still, it was tough to admit it, especially when the Hawks had all but won the biggest game of the year just five minutes and three seconds of playing time earlier.

"It was a good game," Brown said. "A little roll here and there and ... "

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