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Hawks soar in OT

December 04, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Kenny Keyes made a tactical decision on Wednesday when it looked like the ship was starting to go down for the Hagerstown Community College basketball team.

The coach decided to rearrange the deck chairs.

While Montgomery-Rockville did everything it could to torpedo HCC's man defense, the Hawks shuffled around to a 2-3 zone, grabbed the momentum and ultimately grabbed a 98-93 overtime victory at the HCC athletic complex.

"That's what has worked for us all seven games so far," Keyes said. "All their shots were off dribble penetration. We went to the zone to force them to shoot from the outside until they proved they could hit the 3. They did. Good college teams will pick up on defenses, that's why you have to keep switching up."

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Keyes had to do something. Rockville's aggressive style turned usually fast-paced HCC passive and unorganized. The Hawks played on their heels defensively, while their picture of offense resembled a Picasso: They were abstract at best.

HCC (7-0) switched to the 2-3 zone set after Rockville pushed out to a 48-41 lead in the first four minutes of the second half. The move forced Rockville down to HCC's passive level and allowed the Hawks to reel off a 12-0 run - behind six points by Thomas Johnson - to take a 53-48 lead.

"We can't stop the dribble penetration," Keyes said. "We have to work on that. Those guards that Rockville has, they are (Division I). They are strong."

The move kept Rockville on the perimeter until HCC decided to move out of the zone and back into a man defense. Russell Rulapaugh came off the bench to score five quick points and help Rockville regain a 56-55 lead, turning the game into a back-and-forth battle for the last 10 1/2 minutes of regulation.

The lead changed hands nine times to go with six ties down the stretch. Rulapaugh hit a 3 out of the corner with 31 seconds remaining to give Rockville an 80-77 lead, but Johnson, who finished with 20 points, answered with a trey from the top of the key with 13 seconds left to force the extra period.

HCC assumed the lead in the extra period as Davon Paige came off the bench to hit a jumper and a 3 consecutively for a 90-87 lead. Terrell Kittelberger and Rexson Kenley combined for the final eight points as the Hawks built a 97-90 edge with 24 seconds remaining.

"Thomas hit a big 3 for us and our sophomores really stepped up," Keyes said. "They have some heart and they will get better with time."

HCC couldn't find an answer for Rockville's aggressive style in the first half as the Hawks fell behind by as many as 10 points. Kittelberger then scored four of his game-high 27 to ignite a 12-4 run in the last three minutes of the half for a 41-37 deficit at the intermission.

"They ran us out of our offense in the first half," Keyes said. "I really got on them about it at the half, but that aggressive defense they play will take you out of it. We just didn't convert well again."

When HCC put a muzzle on Rockville's wild style, it came down to the type of game the Hawks thrive in - the kind that revolves around self-expression and improvisation.

"We had the better one-on-one players," Keyes said. "We didn't run the offense like we should. It was a case that we got the ball to the right guy in the right one-on-one situation."

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