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Wide-open tournament has HCC women very cautious

March 08, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The position of top seed in any tournament is considered an honor and the red badge of courage.

It means the team in the position is being rewarded for its success while being marked as the one everyone has to beat.

For the Hagerstown Community College women's basketball team, the badge of courage could end up becoming the scarlet letter.

The Hawks are the top seed in this weekend's 11-team Region XX Division II tournament at Frederick Community College. But when they play in the quarterfinals today at 5 p.m., coach Marlys Palmer wonders outloud whether there is any advantage being No. 1.

"I've kind of maintained all along, that with this group of teams, being the top seed doesn't matter much," Palmer said. "This tournament can be won by almost anybody."

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HCC (26-3) became the queen of the hill by virtue of winning the Maryland JuCo Conference tournament two weeks ago. That gave the Hawks a slight edge over three other conference teams to get the honorary slot.

Any advantage is up for discussion as HCC plays No. 8 Catonsville today. Catonsville defeated Cecil 66-62 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinals. The winner of the game advances to play the winner of the No. 4 Harford-No. 5 CCAC-Allegheny game on Saturday at 1.

The Hawks' half of the bracket is littered with possible speed bumps to Sunday's final, with the winner advancing to the national tournament on March 20-23 at the HCC athletic complex.

"We lost to Catonsville and struggled with Cecil," Palmer said. "We only beat Allegheny by three and Harford by 4 at their place. We beat Harford pretty at the JuCo tournament."

Despite the opponent concern, Palmer is more concerned with the Hawks trying to take their own destiny in their hands.

"The biggest area where we can improve is to try and get five people playing well on the same day," Palmer said. "If that's what it takes for us to peak, then we aren't there yet."

HCC has used versatility to get to the top of the heap with combinations of scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.

Maggie Robinson tops the Hawks at 17 points per game along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Vennece Fowlkes checks in with 12 points and 12 rebounds per game while Robin Curley has 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Point guard Melissa Blevins has provided 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game.

"We are not a one-person driven team," Palmer said. "If you have a superstar, you don't always have a supporting cast. I'd rather have five players out there to earn the respect of the defense.

"Obviously, its wonderful to have the national tournament at home and not being in it can be painful. We want to play in the nationals, but not so much that if you don't get it, it won't allow you to put your season in perspective. This is one of the best seasons we have ever had."

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