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Hawks soaring to higher places

April 12, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The balloons were flying at full staff at Hagerstown Community College on Thursday.

It was a proud day in history for the school and women's basketball coach Marlys Palmer.

"In the history of our women's basketball program, we have never had three players receive Division I scholarships in the same year," Palmer said. "We've never had two in the same year. This is unprecedented in the history of our program."

Vennece Fowlkes, Robin Curley and Melissa Blevins became the trio who blazed the new trail for future Hawks to follow. Fowlkes and Curley each signed to attend Winthrop, while Blevins will be heading north to play for Robert Morris.

The trio were three of the mainstays which helped the HCC women to their best-ever record of 28-4 and a state championship. Fowlkes and Curley represented the strength in the middle, while Blevins was the unselfish floor leader who distributed the ball.

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For Fowlkes, selecting Winthrop was a combination of God-given talent and divine intervention.

"Starting as a freshman, I didn't have a very good year," the Broadfording Christian Academy graduate said. "In my sophomore year, I decided I'd go wherever God led me. I prayed and Winthrop got on me from the beginning. I knew where I was supposed to be. I prayed and God kept his promise to me."

Winthop picked up on Fowlkes and Curley with the help of a flyer Palmer sent around to D-I schools in behalf of the pair, but the intent wasn't to get both of them at the same school.

Winthrop wanted Fowlkes mainly for her rebounding ability. She averaged 10.6 boards and 9.8 points at HCC to go with 2.9 steals per game. Curley's stock rose with her ability to block shots, adding another presence inside. The Boonsboro graduate averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game and owns two single game and one career school record.

"I think I'm going where I should be," Curley said. "I have no regrets of coming to HCC. I was able to take everything I learned in high school and have it come all together here."

Palmer called Blevins "the harder sell" of the trio because she only played at HCC for one season after transferring out of North Carolina State. Most schools shied away from Blevins because of her petite build. But Robert Morris liked the packaging from the beginning.

"She has a Hoosiers mentality," Palmer said. "She is a traditional player and someone who is a classic point guard. She passes first and then shoots second, third or on the fourth option."

Blevins averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 assists per game and helped account for 30 percent of HCC's offense this season.

"You always like to do what you do best," Blevins said. "My forte is passing the ball, but I still can go a ways to perfect it."

Blevins wasn't a recruiting candidate until mid season. Her size made most teams pass on her.

"Robert Morris liked everything about me," Blevins said. "They liked the way I played and they respected me."

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